Men's Team

Joao Cancelo on his versatility, Klopp v Pep and one of the hardest weeks of his career

Joao Cancelo on his versatility, Klopp v Pep and one of the hardest weeks of his career
It was billed as one of the most difficult weeks City have ever faced.

Three games against world-class opposition, all away from home.

It started last weekend with a win over in-form Chelsea and was quickly followed by defeat at PSG on an evening that saw plenty of positives emerge, with City dominating Mauricio Pochettino’s team for much of the game.

And now on Sunday, the final instalment of the trilogy: a game at Anfield against early Premier League pacesetters Liverpool.

Rarely has such a daunting sequence of fixtures emerged.

“Since I was a kid, I have dreamt of playing in a big club, playing in big games and being involved in the best football competitions, such as the Champions League and the Premier League,” says Joao Cancelo, who played every minute of the games against Chelsea and PSG and has arguably been our star player across the two matches.  

“It was a very difficult week for us in terms of the calendar. We still have the game against Liverpool at Anfield. At the end of it, we will have probably played against three of the best teams in the world at the moment.


“For an elite player that dreams and aims for this, we need to be ready for the challenge. We have a deep squad, unfortunately with some injuries, but both myself and my teammates have shown we are ready.

“The defeat in Paris is part of the past and we are focused on the game on Sunday. We are going to do our best to try to get the three points.”

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Cancelo joined City in the summer 2019 from Juventus and has won a Premier League title and two League Cups in his two seasons at the Club.

It’s a period which has also seen him used in a variety of positions by Guardiola.

He has played at both left- and right-back, and is often asked to step into central areas when City have possession in order to add numbers in midfield. No other defender in the Premier League plays the way he does.

It’s a unique approach, one forced upon him by the requirements of manager Pep Guardiola.

But the 27-year-old is thriving. He enjoys the tactical variety playing in a Guardiola team demands and believes it has made him a more complete player.


“I was brought up and developed as a right-back,” Cancelo explains. “However, I like to be versatile, because during the year there are lots of injuries, so I want to help the team and I can adapt to any position the manager needs me.

“The manager has helped me a lot in adapting to different positions on the pitch and I feel today I’m a much better player, both mentally, physically and tactically. I try to adapt to the team the best way I can to help to achieve our goals.

“I’m happy to be able to play in different positions.

“I think I’m the sort of player every team wants to have in their squad for my versatility.

“There are a lot of situations throughout the season, injuries, problems. So I’m always ready to help the group, whether it is as a right-back, left-back, midfielder.

“What the manager wants me to do, I’ll always try to do my best to help the team.”

The game at Anfield arrives too early in the season to be considered crucial, but it could easily be a classic. These are two sides with differing styles - but both are true to their attacking instincts. Over the past four seasons, they have been England’s preeminent sides.

It’s thrown up some memorable matches, with Jurgen Klopp’s aggressive, all-action style contrasting with Guardiola’s possession-based, high-intensity passing game.

These are perhaps the two finest managers in the game, united by their obsessive love of football.

“They are both great managers, two of the best managers in the world,” Cancelo says. “It really depends on how you perceive football. I personally like Pep Guardiola more. Not only because he is my coach, but for the football his teams play.

“I think wherever we go, our team always shows personality. We have a very defined style of play, and Liverpool as well. I think they have a different style of play and they are a very strong team.

“Personally, I like Pep more, because since I watch football, the best team I ever saw playing was Pep’s FC Barcelona.

“Since then, I have always wanted to be coached by him and I managed to make my dream come true.

“Last year we won at Anfield, like we previously did in other big venues such as Santiago Bernabeu or Stamford Bridge. I think we are a team with a very defined style of play, with a lot of personality. We go to every stadium to win because we know our value.

“That is the best way to be close to win every single game. It’s not because it’s Anfield Road or Stamford Bridge, we go to every ground with the aim to win. We know the level of our players, we know the level of our team, we know we have the level to face them and try to win every one of those games.

“Two very strong teams facing each other, probably the best two teams in England in recent years. We go to every ground with the goal of winning.”

No matter what the result on Sunday, this is a week Cancelo and his teammates will never forget. 

Liverpool v City

We will have full coverage of Sunday’s game against Liverpool right here on

Our Matchday Centre will get under way at 14:30 UK time, with text updates throughout the day meaning you won't miss a beat. 

Our Matchday Live show starts around 15:25, when Joleon Lescott and David James will be our studio guests. 

And CITY+ subscribers can enjoy a full 90-minute replay from midnight. 

Find out more and sign up, here.

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