That Portuguese, the hero is João Cancelo

In two months, Sergio Ramos and Pepe have passed through Montjuïc.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
28 November 2023 Tuesday 03:26
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That Portuguese, the hero is João Cancelo

In two months, Sergio Ramos and Pepe have passed through Montjuïc. Those who were the two center backs of Real Madrid now play in the teams that catapulted them to stardom and to sign for the whites. Both, already veterans at Sevilla and Porto, respectively, were the leaders of José Mourinho's white defense, a very unedifying era where sportsmanship was left on a stretcher from the classics.

“That Portuguese…” was one of the niceties that was dedicated to the controversial coach from the Camp Nou stands, in addition to recommending that he stop by a theater in the city and remind him of his past as a translator, who had become a kind of Darth Vader from his years at Chelsea and Inter. Not even sprinklers could put out the fires.

Once public enemies, especially since the betrayal of Luis Figo in 2000, the Portuguese became the heroes of Barcelona's victory and qualification for the round of 16. The twists and turns that life takes, that path where you cannot say that you will not drink that water.

Because the Blaugrana will once again be in the Champions League hype – 2020 was the last time that happened – thanks to the goals of their two João, who arrived on loan on the last day of the market and represented by a compatriot of theirs who is a good friend of the president.

Cancelo and João Félix were two risky bets, because they arrived looking difficult, but the club decided to be brave and take a chance, convinced that they would measure up in big games and the squad took a leap. On a key day for the future in Europe they became main protagonists.

The side's goal was decisive for the moment and the beautiful execution. He got the team out of the mess and removed the blockage that was holding them. Two minutes after Porto took the lead, Cancelo dribbled past another João, Mario, to put the ball into the back of the net. It was a turning point, because it also avoided any hint of anger from the fans.

Cancelo's celebration, with his eyes wild and his face contorted, denoted the importance. “Let's go,” the Portuguese shouted like a man possessed. Clenched fists and blows to his chest. It was the grit, rebellion and ambition that is required of the team.

In the first action of the second half, João Félix shook the crossbar. He touched the goal that had eluded him so much. The drought remained at 12 games without scoring because he took advantage of an assist from behind, a double wall, yours-mine, yours-mine, with his colleague and namesake, to push into the net with his right foot. They needed it. Him and Barça.

Xavi reserved João Félix because Atlético and Simeone arrive on Sunday, with whom he has some pending issues. The boy was the first to be replaced. The coach didn't want to take any chances with Cancelo either, when he got hurt. He immediately ordered the change to avoid taking risks with a player capable of playing as a tall inside player on the right in Vallecas and as a left-back against Porto four days apart. “The truth is that in the last two games with the national team and also in Vallecas he felt his hamstrings loaded. Today (yesterday) a little more. But I am going to do everything possible to be against Atlético,” revealed the footballer, who belongs to Manchester City.

For now, Barça said goodbye to the Europa League. And although he did not do it, Montjuïc could have sung: that Portuguese, the hero is. Because that's how it was.