Barcelona will be eager to get back to winning ways and secure a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League when they take on FC Porto on Tuesday night.
Barcelona could have secured safe passage to the Round of 16 before the international break itself, but tripped up against Shakhtar Donetsk.
It now puts Xavi Hernandez & co. under intense pressure, especially with the Catalans having missed out on qualification to the knockouts in the last two seasons.
Ahead of the big game against Porto at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, Joao Cancelo attended the press conference with manager Xavi.
Stressing on the importance of the match, the right-back said: “We face it like a final, we know how important it is for the team and for the club.
“We could have qualified in the last game and it will be a very difficult game. We have a month of very important games and tomorrow we have a final and we have to win.”
Barcelona’s recent form and performances have not been up to the mark, which has put pressure on the team and the manager.
Discussing the same, Cancelo remarked: “The last few games we didn’t play the way we wanted to but against Rayo we had a better feeling, although it wasn’t a ten-goal game.
“We have to improve and important players like Frenkie are back. The good thing about football is that three days later you have the opportunity to play a good game to gain confidence.”
“There are times when we’re not so good, like now, we’re not like we were when I arrived. We have to try to do better than the last game. We have a very young team with quality. With players who give us a lot like Frenkie. We will try to improve the situation together,” he added.
Xavi has been talking about how the criticism from outside can affect the morale of the players, but Cancelo insisted that he is not bothered by any of it, saying:
“Criticism from the press personally doesn’t affect me because I’m already a veteran, but we have very young players. We have to know how to deal with the pressure because that’s the only way we’ll achieve great things.”
Talking about the challenge that Porto will pose to the Catalans, he added: “Porto in the first game caused us difficulties because of the way they played. We know the coach, he likes to play in an intense way and we will try to find their weaknesses. It will be a difficult game for sure.”
Cancelo has been used in a multitude of positions since joining Barcelona and when asked about where he preferred to play, the right-back said:
“I feel good at right-back as well as at left-back. I always want to be in the team to help my teammates. I love being here and I have loved this team since I was a kid because of all my idols who played here. I want to do my best and help to get a win.”
Discussing his own recent form, the defender added: “I started well and I don’t think I’m bad now. It’s a not-so-good moment for all of us but this is not resolved on an individual basis but as a collective.”
Following the draw against Rayo Vallecano this past weekend, Xavi said that the team needed to improve their mentality. When asked if that was an issue, Cancelo replied:
“I don’t think we lack a winning mentality because I’ve always seen Barça win. We have a very young team and they don’t have the experience of the older ones. But you pick that up year by year.”
Asked about the differences between playing for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and now under Xavi at Barcelona, Cancelo remarked:
“All coaches have different ways of interpreting the game. I’m very grateful to Pep because he made me a better player and I’m very grateful to Xavi because things are going well for me and I’m enjoying it a lot.
“At Barça, I have extra motivation because it’s the club I’ve always wanted to be at and if possible win titles.”
The 29-year-old right-back also sang praises of Barcelona youngster Lamine Yamal, as he said: “Lamine is an incredible player, he has spectacular talent for his age. From the experience I’ve had, I try to talk to him to make things easier for him and when I pass it to him I try to keep him in one-on-one situations, which is his greatest strength.”
Discussing the recent lack of goals from his compatriot Joao Felix, Cancelo said: “Forwards need to score but Joao Felix comes from a great attitude and great training, if he does it tomorrow he will be the best in the world again, that’s football. He has the right mentality.”
Source: Mundo Deportivo