Joao Cancelo improvised under Pep Guardiola’s system (III)

Joao Cancelo improvised under Pep Guardiola’s system (III)

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25 Feb 2022
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Joao Cancelo

How Cancelo became top-tier

  • In 2021/22, Cancelo was felt in City’s 10 goals in all competitions (3 goals 7 assists). For the defenders of Josep Guardiola’s teams, this is a historic achievement: the last player in this position to score 10 points in the goal pass system was scored by David Alaba back in the 2013/14 season.
  • And again about the 2021/22 season. Cancelo is the best player in the Top 5 leagues in terms of the number of passes that move the ball to the opponent’s goal – 114. The Portuguese is followed by Trent (113), Busquets (109) and Kimmich (106).
  • There is a more visible confirmation of the level of the Portuguese – over the past year, Cancelo has issued several outstanding individual performances. One of the best came in November 2021 when the defender scored a hat-trick of assists in the Champions League match against Club Brugge. 


Cancelo is an elite defender 

For almost his entire career, cancelo has faced one complaint – he doesn’t defend well enough. It seems that Guardiola has corrected this flaw as well. Joao Cancelo of 2021 is not only an outstanding attacking player, but also an elite defender. Let’s compare the Portuguese with another powerful full-back – Trent Alexander-Arnold. Almost all the authors of put the Englishman in the team of the year, but in the 2021/22 season, cancelo defended much better. Exploring defensive metrics from the official website of the Premier League.


  • Team figures are unanimously in favor of Cancelo. With the Portuguese in the “City” conceded 10 goals and 11 clean sheets. With Trent, Liverpool conceded 14 goals and only kept 8 clean sheets.
  • Interceptions: Trent’s 25 vs. Cancelo’s 34.
  • Joao has more tackles, 36 vs. Trent’s 22.
  • Successful tackles: 14 to 25 in favor of Cancelo.
  • Aerial duels won: 11 for Trent, 29 for the Portuguese. This is logical – Cancelo is 182 centimeters tall (7 cm taller than Trent). But in any case, let’s fix that Joao effectively converts his advantages in size.
  • Trent is only ahead on a couple of metrics: clearances (20 vs. 18) and one-on-one tackles (2, Cancelo has zero).


“Pep has improved a lot of guys over the years, but Cancelo has become a world-class player,” said former Aston Villa star Ahmed Al-Mouhammadi. Cancelo plays so powerfully that he makes even his enemies yearn. Former Manchester United star Gary Neville recently spoke with sadness about how he offered to sign Cancelo to Manchester United a few years ago. But Cancelo’s progress was especially appreciated at City. According to authoritative insider Fabrizio Romano, the Portuguese will be offered a new contract in the near future. “The Board sees cancelo as a key player for the present and the future,” Romano writes. The history of the revival has only one unpleasant detail – it seems that with such a competitor, Alexander Zinchenko will still have to change the club.

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