After a bright start to his loan spell at Bayern Munich from Manchester City, Joao Cancelo had started to fall out of favor with Julian Nagelsmann, with the former Bayern manager showing a preference to either Benjamin Pavard or Josip Stanisic on multiple occasions. There was also more than one occasion where the Portuguese defender was pulled off at halftime when Nagelsmann felt that there was a need for a tactical switch.
Cancelo voiced his frustration after he didn’t start in the second leg in the Champions League round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain, as Nagelsmann started Stanisic over him, which is hard to argue with given the 2-0 win.
Now, under Thomas Tuchel, Cancelo has another chance to try to firmly stake his claim in the starting lineup. He didn’t start in the 4-2 win over Borussia Dortmund, but did start in the 2-1 DFB-Pokal loss to SC Freiburg as far as Tuchel’s first two matches as Bayern manager are concerned. One thing working in Cancelo’s favor is how familiar Tuchel is with him from his time managing Chelsea in the Premier League, and going head to head with Manchester City on numerous occasions, including the 2021 Champions League final in Porto, Portugal.
In his press conference ahead of the Pokal loss to Freiburg, Tuchel spoke about how much he admires Cancelo as a player and all of the attributes he brings to the table. “I love João, I’ve had to play against him many times. He has the absolute highest quality, left foot, right foot, passing. He’s a different type of player than Benji Pavard. He can also play on the left in the back four,” he explained (via @iMiaSanMia).
Tuchel used a back four system in his opening two matches as Bayern manager, and Cancelo thrived better in Nagelsmann’s back three system. That’s not to say that Tuchel will never utilize a back three system at Bayern, but he’s quite fond of Cancelo’s ability to get forward. It’s just a matter of how to best use that when he’s called upon. “His absolute strength is precision of crosses and on the ball, also finishing. I’m more than happy that he’s here. We will need him. I’m convinced that he can play at a top level for us,” Tuchel said of the defender.
For Bayern’s sake, hopefully Tuchel can perfect the balancing act of using Cancelo to the best of his abilities, while also keeping him happy. It’s become rather clear that the defender doesn’t take too well to not playing as much as he’d like or expect, and reports suggest Bayern is not interested in activating the buy option at the end of his loan spell.