A smile often says more than a thousand words. When Joao Cancelo left the pitch in the Bayern Munich jersey after 70 minutes, he wore a brilliant smile for a reason.
Having joined the Bavarians only a day before on loan from Manchester City, the 28-year-old in the German Cup duel against Mainz appeared like he had been around for ages.
Together with the Portuguese, doubts about a sportive crisis seemed blown away in an undisputed 4-0 victory.
Self-confidence and technical skills made the Portuguese international ignore Julian Nagelsmann’s orders. Instead of following the Bayern coach’s clearly audible instructions to pass the ball back, he delivered a genius cross to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to move Bayern ahead 1-0, reports news agency Xinhua.
“We might have to talk about that,” the Bayern coach joked, admitting that sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has landed a blow perfectly fitting his demands.
The performance upswing seems to have erased concerns ahead of the delicate last-16 duels against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Meeting Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi has been the dominant topic for Bayern over the past weeks.
After only one training session Cancelo triggered a wave of excitement. Suddenly, the buying option of 70 million euros next summer appears like a bargain to many.
The gift of being multiple tasking as a left- and right-back coming along with high-class midfield skills, is opening doors for tactical variety.
Facing Paris, the Bayern coach might not count on a similar open strategy relying on a back-chain of three and Cancelo operating in midfield pushing attacks. “He is increasing our options significantly,” Joshua Kimmich said.
A wave of praises followed the widely acclaimed debut.
“He is a perfect match, his crosses are outstanding, incredible,” midfielder Jamal Musiala said. A wave of hugs for the new arrival followed this year’s best performance.
For the first time, Nagelsmann didn’t use video clips to work through the recent game but left the analyzing entirely to his players.
Cancelo met his new squad having developed the determination to improve to get in shape for Paris. The Portuguese modestly spoke of a “good start” promising, there is more to come.
That is exactly what coach Nagelsmann seems to expect by calling him “world-class”, and praising his education “as you can see football basics stood in the centre of his way up.”
It was apparent that with Cancelo, Bayern’s mood had changed and their confidence increased before crossing swords with Paris Saint-Germain.