clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Right or left? Where should Inter Milan play Joao Cancelo?

New, comments

Just what is the best strategy to play the Portuguese back?

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Serie A
Joao Cancelo (R) of FC Internazionale Milano is challenged by Jorginho of SSC Napoli during the serie A match between FC Internazionale and SSC Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 11, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

It was a struggle anyone watching the last 45 minutes of Sunday’s Napoli-Inter Milan game could see.

Right back Joao Cancelo, after being moved to the left side in the second half, struggled to make clean crosses and create opportunities up front.

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Serie A
Joao Cancelo of FC Internazionale Milano in action during the serie A match between FC Internazionale and SSC Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 11, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

After the 0-0 draw, Inter manager Luciano Spalletti said the move was intended to put Danilo D’Ambrosio on Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne. Spalletti suggested, after the game, Cancelo was not happy with the second-half switch.

“If he plays badly on the left, he’ll tell you it’s because he should’ve been on the right,” Spalletti said, according to Football-Italia.net. “All players do that, him more than most. He is two-footed, can emerge from very difficult situations with the quality of a trequartista rather than a full-back, so I moved him to push more down that flank.”

Cancelo responded this week on Inter TV by saying his was “always available to the Coach,” according to Calciomercato.com.

“I prefer to play on the right, but I’m always available to the Coach and even [on the left], I can create problems for my opponents,” he said. “Playing with Candreva or Perisic out wide doesn’t change anything. They’re different to each other, but I have no problems with them.

“We also work hard physically during the week because we know that there are some delicate games coming up. How much do I train on placing my crosses? I always try to improve. I try to cross in the best way for the team to take advantage.”

Against Napoli, Cancelo struggled with his passing, completing them with just 79 percent accuracy. He also struggled as Insigne managed four of his six shots on target in the first half. Once D’Ambrosio was switched, Insigne still managed to attack, but managed just a pair of shots on target in the final 45 minutes.

Cancelo looked uncomfortable on the left and his play showed as most of his 67 touches for the match came off the right side.

So, the question is did Spalletti make the right decision in switching? If nothing else, it was certainly a gamble and that gamble seemed to pay off as Inter’s defense was able to hold Napoli in check for the duration of the game.

That said, what could have been different if Cancelo was left on the right? Would Insigne have pressed through and scored? Could Cancelo have made more of an offensive impact on the right in the second half?

He did have this move coming off the left though:

But, on the right he’s done things like this:

And this …

Oh, and this …

Truth is, we don’t know. But, it is clear that Cancelo is much stronger and potent on the right whereas being on the left he provides little on the pitch.


What do you think? Post your comments below!