FC Barcelona, similar to many great European sides, believes in the idea of experimentation. Changing tactics, tweaking systems, and going for unorthodox approaches can sometimes be critical. These risks allow good teams to be great, but can also be a double-edged blade.
Xavi Hernandez, the current coach of FC Barcelona, is no stranger to the act of experimentation. During his short time at Barça thus far, he has already showcased his desire to switch things up. His latest iteration of such tweaks included Joao Cancelo as the subject.
Return to normality
However, despite having been deployed both as a midfielder and a winger, Cancelo’s specialty lies as a fullback. In regards to this, Mundo Deportivo highlights Xavi’s statement in his recent press conference ahead of the Shakhtar Donetsk game in Hamburg:
“Cancelo will regain his natural position. He will play about 80% as a full-back, either on the right or left.”
Variation in positions
The Barcelona coach further clarified that Cancelo’s usage as a winger or midfielder was based on tactical necessity. Against both Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, Xavi had a proper reason to utilize him as such. However, the coach assures that the Portuguese star will return to his natural position:
“We adjusted defensively against Real Sociedad and Madrid when we wanted three center-backs. He will return to his natural position as soon as possible. That’s where he feels best, and it’s my preference as a coach.”
These statements confirm that Cancelo’s utilization apart from as a fullback is going to be an occasional thing. Moreover, Xavi has also seemingly confirmed that he can potentially use Cancelo as a left-back.
This would offer Barcelona much more depth and allow Alejandro Balde to rest without a significant dip in quality or worry about leaving that flank of the defense to be vulnerable in terms of playing ability.