Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will have been delighted with the performances of his players in Portugal’s 3-0 win over Azerbaijan on Tuesday.
Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo all started as Portugal swept their opponents aside with ease in a World Cup qualifying match. Silva scored one of the goals, with RB Leipzig’s Andre Silva and Liverpool’s Diogo Jota also finding the back of the net.
Whilst Guardiola will be pleased that Silva was able to get on the scoresheet and that Dias registered a clean sheet, the player whose performance he will surely have been wowed by is Joao Cancelo.
The former Juventus defender produced a sensational display, with Bruno Fernandes and Jota the only players who recorded higher SofaScore ratings than the fullback. Cancelo was handed a score of 8.5/10, compared to Dias’ 7.3 and Silva’s 7.6, suggesting that he was the standout of the City players on the pitch.
Defensively, he was excellent. Per SofaScore, Cancelo won 73% of his duels on the pitch as he won nine of 12 on the ground and two of three in the air. He also made three tackles and two clearances, whilst also managing to avoid being dribbled past a single time in the game. This shows that he was strong defensively and did not allow himself to be exposed at fullback, helping to protect his centre-backs and the goalkeeper.
The 27-year-old was able to merge his impressive defending with attacking flair. Per SofaScore, Cancelo had a whopping 120 touches of the ball in 90 minutes, providing two key passes and completing 76 passes as he registered one assist.
He also completed an eye-catching six of his seven dribbles attempted. This included a sequence of play where he nutmegged two opposition players in succession with an exquisite piece of skill, whilst also finding a teammate with seven of his 10 long pass attempts.
Overall, Cancelo was exceptional at both ends of the pitch. He was almost faultless defensively and was able to showboat with his ability on the ball going forward – setting up one of the three goals.
Guardiola will have been wowed by Cancelo’s display as it was a complete performance from the defender that bodes well for him heading back into Premier League action this weekend.