Joao Cancelo Is Coming Into Form

Joao Cancelo

Manchester City knew they were buying an outstanding attacking right-back when they signed Joao Cancelo this summer. His skill going forward is a dream addition, but he had plenty of warranted questions about his defence. Those questions are still there, but City have made the answers much less important.

Joao Cancelo Is Coming Into Form

Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa

Let’s start with the game played this weekend as there are some non-Cancelo related headlines to get out of the way. Most importantly, Kevin De Bruyne‘s free-kick. On a free-kick from the left side of the box, De Bruyne whipped in a beautiful ball in front of perfectly timed runners that Villa keeper Tom Heaton had no choice but to let into the net.

The ball had two onrushing City players that forced Heaton to his fate, David Silva and Raheem Sterling. Silva makes an attempt to touch the ball but comes so close that its nearly impossible to tell if he touched it in on replays. However, if he did touch the ball it should not count as Raheem Sterling was offsides when the ball got to Silva.

The VAR official ruled that Silva didn’t touch the ball and therefore Sterling was not in an offside position. Boom, done, problem solved right? Wrong. England’s famous Goal Accreditation panel gave the goal to Silva, meaning he got a touch and the goal should have been ruled out.

It’s important to note here that VAR has no connection to the panel and that those decisions are made independently. But in this case, it would be better if there was some consistency between the goal panel and VAR. The goal panel should know how VAR came to their decisions otherwise this won’t be the last issue like this.

Superstar Cancelo

It has really been a showcase week for new Manchester City right-back Joao Cancelo. The 25-year-old Portuguese international arrived this summer with a ton of attacking hype and plenty of defensive questions. But he has played so well since joining City that you wonder what Juventus were thinking by selling him.

They sold him on the basis of his defence being so bad that he was detrimental to the team. Under Juve’s former coach Max Allegri, they defended very deep, especially late in games. It seems like that style was the problem for Cancelo.

At City, he is defending much higher up the pitch at all times. He’s not great at making an initial challenge and can be prone to making reckless tackles. However, because he is much higher up the field those mistakes are less costly.

If he makes a poor tackle, it’s either a foul at the halfway line or he has time and space to recover from his mistake. Juventus’s deep defensive style put Cancelo in bad situations. But City’s high defensive line does the opposite, allowing his world-class attacking ability to shine.

Cancelo’s Dynamite Skill

While Cancelo was in Italy, they raved about his precision when crossing. Both Inter Milan and Juventus found a way to shoehorn Cancelo in their side at right-back, right-wingback or even as a right-winger. At each position his ability to locate a teammate in the box at pace shone through.

Cancelo is at his best when he pings the ball in on a rope. He does such a great job of picking out his teammates with line drive crosses. And when he plays them early at pace there is no time for defenders to react. Its a skill very few ‘defenders’ have the ability to utilize. It’s a skill Dani Alves used so well so famously for so long, and that isn’t the only similarity between the two attacking right-backs.

EFL Cup vs Southampton

On Tuesday Manchester City will face Southampton in the 4th round of the Carabao Cup. It will no doubt be a strange game for City as Southampton are coming off a Premier League record 9-0 defeat to Leicester City on Friday. It would be quite shocking if they let another team roll over them like that.

But you have to feel for Southampton, travelling to Manchester City after a loss like that can hardly be an easy workday. Luckily for them, it is the EFL cup so they might not get thrown to the sword so quickly.

They will likely have to face off against future City superstars Phil Foden and Eric Garcia. The pair have made plenty of appearances in this competition already, and Tuesday is another perfect opportunity.


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