Joao Cancelo first 'Guardiola-influenced' trait at Barcelona – Sport English

Joao Cancelo first ‘Guardiola-influenced’ trait at Barcelona

It was perhaps surprising that Joao Cancelo, after having just completed one training session with Barcelona, played for over half an hour in Pamplona. This is also indicative of how much Xavi and the team need him to fit into the system.
He was one of the most sought-after and anticipated pieces of the puzzle. We had to wait until the very end of the transfer window, but he arrived. We hoped he could debut in that first call-up despite the tight schedule and despite not having played competitive minutes for over a month.
But it was more than 30 minutes. He replaced Sergi Roberto and showcased several aspects of his playing style and what he can offer. Versatility, the ability to play inside and out, on either side.
Xavi is clear about it, “Cancelo needs to join the midfield in attack, I told him before coming on. He will give us numerical superiority in midfield,” Xavi said after the match. Naturally, they had barely had time to work on automatisms together.
With only one training session together, there will be plenty of time for the Terrassa native to take advantage of the foundations he already brings and that will be very useful in Barcelona’s system, adding personal nuances to get the most out of him.
The fact is, we saw Joao perhaps a bit more restrained than what we were used to seeing at City or Bayern. The context of the match didn’t help, of course. Osasuna was pressing forward, and Barcelona had some trouble containing their attacks.
From the moment ‘Chimy’ Ávila equalized, the Barcelona team did step up. And we could see Joao becoming more comfortable. He started doing something we used to see with Guardiola at Manchester.
In at least three attacking plays by Barcelona, he moved inside like an interior midfielder to participate in the build-up. This created a corridor for Jules Koundé, who loves to push forward from the center of the defense.
Joao’s presence in the central channel generates numerical advantages and provides support to Frenkie de Jong (especially when he positions himself at the base of the play), Gündogan, and others.
Undoubtedly, this maneuver can surprise static defensive setups and create chaos in marking. Cancelo takes advantage of his excellent associative abilities and the agility to play this role. Dani Alves used to do it at times during his era, another exquisite profile for quick triangulations and associations.
Xavi was aware of this ability of Joao’s. And from now on, when he has him under his orders regularly (he’s with Portugal, so he quickly left his hands), he can work on more variations with one of the most versatile full-backs in modern football.
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