When the draws brought Man City to face Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals, many people immediately thought of Pep Guardiola’s return to the Allianz Arena. As a coach of Man City, Pep has met Bayern a few times, but all of them are in friendly matches. This is the real opportunity to verify after the breakup in 2016, which side is having a better life?
But the attention focused on Pep will be more or less limited because there is Cancelo. During the January transfer window, the Portuguese defender surprised the public when he suddenly switched to Bayern on loan from Man City. Worth mentioning, City did not install a clause banning Cancelo against the host team, which means that both sides can squarely confront each other on the pitch.
In fact, if Cancelo wasn’t brilliant, everything would be much more normal. But no, since joining Etihad Stadium from Juventus in 2019, Cancelo has risen to become one of the best defenders in the world. After 154 matches in the City shirt, Cancelo scored 9 goals and assisted 22 times – the parameters of an organized midfielder.
City helps Cancelo and Cancelo also helps City. What is most disruptive and unique in Guardiola’s thinking about football converges in Cancelo. Before Cancelo, fans always knew that Pep wanted full-backs to stick to the center when needed to add a “seasonal” midfielder. But only with Cancelo, this layout was raised to a new level. The concept of “organizational defender” or “making defender” was born like this. With Pep and Man City, the source of creativity lies in Cancelo.
Because they consider each other such elites, Cancelo’s sudden departure from City was a surprise. The two sides also tried to keep the so-called “professional”, limiting personal criticism, but then, the public gradually realized that the conflict was real.
Last month, Cancelo confessed: “After the World Cup, Pep wanted the defenders to be more central, which I can do well, but he likes what Rico Lewis and Nathan Ake do more. I think the player. Everyone is a little selfish, everyone wants to feel important, wants to play. If someone says otherwise, they must be lying. A competitive player like me always wants to play. I don’t mean to belittle my teammates but I think I deserve to play but Pep doesn’t think so.”
In response, Guardiola implicitly responded: “If a player who is not playing always acts like ‘me, me, choose me’, then I don’t care nor pay attention”.
Cancelo also shared that the two sides had talked and both agreed that leaving was the best option. And come here, you know how the men of high honor will act. Even if you can set the terms, Pep will not do it because he is not tired of confronting Cancelo – the product he created himself. As for Cancelo, it was obvious that the determination to play an explosive match in front of the old teacher had been brewed for a long time. Both are trying to prove that they are living well without each other.
This season, in both colors, after 34 matches, Cancelo has scored 3 goals and contributed 9 assists. Of these, he has only played for Bayern 8 times but has scored 1 goal and assisted 4 times. What shows at the Allianz Arena proves that Cancelo is still very useful and Bayern of course cannot be ignored.
Speaking of which, it is also important to know that Bayern is an expert in creating awkward situations. It’s similar to how they announced the successful signing of Robert Lewandowski, although he still has the last few months on his contract with Dortmund. It is also the Gray Lobster that harbors famous “traitors”.
In the classic 8-2 victory over Barca in the quarter-finals of the Champions League 2019/20, Philippe Coutinho contributed 2 goals for Bayern. At that time, the Brazilian midfielder played on loan from… Barca. Or as in the 1/8 round of the 2015/16 season, Kingsley Coman also helped Bayern stab a fatal “knife” into the Juventus team in extra time. The prospect of Cancelo becoming the third “Judas” is also looming.