Barcelona play a very important Champions League group stage match against FC Porto on Tuesday needing a win to guarantee a spot in the Round of 16 and avoid drama in the final matchday, and João Cancelo figures to play a pivotal role in the Blaugrana’s chances to beat the Portuguese side.
The full-back arrived from Manchester City on loan in September and has been a fixture of the team ever since, playing a number of different roles and bringing the expected upgrade in quality at the right-back position that Barça had been craving for a long time.
But the team has struggled in recent weeks, with bad results and even worse performances that are beginning to hurt their title chances in La Liga and complicating their life in Europe. Barça must show a big reaction on Tuesday, and Cancelo knows the importance of the game.
He thinks the problem with this current Barça team is the inexperience of the many young players who are key pieces of the team, but the Portugal international is confident they have the right mentality to learn from the tough moments and rise to the occasion when it matters the most.
Cancelo also spoke in Monday’s pre-match press conference about the differences between his former manager Pep Guardiola and his current boss Xavi Hernández, and indicated he is very happy with life in Catalonia and his role on the team.
“The last few games we didn’t play the way we wanted but against Rayo we had a better feeling, although it wasn’t a 10/10 game. We have to improve and important players like Frenkie have returned. The good thing about football is that three days later you have the opportunity to play a good game to gain confidence.
“I don’t think we lack a winning mentality, because I have always seen Barça win. We have a very young team and it doesn’t have the experience of the older ones. But that is learned year by year.
“The criticism from the press does not affect me personally because I am already a veteran, I’m more of an adult, but we have very young players. We have to know how to deal with pressure because only then will we achieve great things.
“All coaches have different ways of interpreting the game. I am very grateful to Pep because he made me a better player and I am very grateful to Xavi because things are going well for me and I am enjoying it a lot. At Barca I have extra motivation because this is the club that I have always wanted to be in and, if possible, win titles.
“I started well and I don’t think I’m playing badly now. It’s not such a good moment for everyone but this is not resolved individually, but collectively.”