Pau Cubarsí: The Latest Talent from La Masia



Just a few months ago, Pau Cubarsí was a name largely unknown in the football world. Now, at just 17, he has made a meteoric rise through FC Barcelona’s ranks to join the first team, marking his presence with standout performances. Notably, he shone as the best player in the critical Champions League round of 16 match that FC Barcelona played against Napoli (3-1). His rapid progress didn’t just capture the attention of fans and critics; it also earned him a coveted spot on the Spanish national team, an impressive feat for someone so young. So, what’s the secret behind Cubarsí’s exceptional performance? In this analysis, we delve into the key aspects of this talented Spanish player’s game.

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Defending the Ball Possessor

Our analysis begins with Pau Cubarsí’s defensive abilities. Despite his youth, he exhibits exceptional skill in a crucial aspect of center-back play: defending against the ball possessor. He shines particularly in scenarios outside the box, where he intelligently chooses not to engage directly in a duel against opponents who receive the ball facing their own goal. Instead, Cubarsí guides them towards the sidelines, preventing them from advancing past him.

In one-to-one situations where the attacker is facing him and has room to maneuver, he shows remarkable patience. He temporizes and waits for the right moment to make his move, allowing also for defensive helps from his teammates. Also, if the the attacker attempts to dribble past, Cubarsí’s determination and physicality come to the forefront, consistently proving difficult to beat.

Pau Cubarsí defending the ball possessor, waiting for the right moment to engage in the duel and win the tackle.

Pau Cubarsi ball possessor

In the example, Cubarsí does not engage in direct contact with the opponent who is facing his own goal before this one receives the ball. This avoid he is being surpassed with the opponent's first touch.

Pau Cubarsí guiding his directo opponent away from the goal to finally tackle him.

Cubarsí – 01

In this case, where the opponent is facing him he uses his body angle and defensive acumen to guide him towards the sideline and avoid the danger.

Pau Cubarsí leading the ranks in interceptions and recoveries

Pau Cubarsí_defending_recoveries-interceptions

Cubarsí is leading both the recoveries and interceptions per 90 minute ranks in La Liga this season, proving his ability to defend the ball possessor and also read passing lines.

Pau Cubarsí showing very good performance in terms of tackling

Pau Cubarsí_defending_tackles

Additionally, he is very good in duels, showing an amazing performance when it comes to the timing of his tackles.

Thanks to these fundamentals that he applies when defending the ball possessor but also his ability to read passing lines, Cubarsí has become the center back that has the most recoveries, interceptions and successful tackles per 90 minutes so far in La Liga this season. These stats are very impressive when we are talking about a 17-year-old defender who has just been promoted from the academy.

Ability to Keep a High Defensive Line

Furthermore, Cubarsí’s defensive abilities are also clear in his ability to uphold a high defensive line, a strategy that has been key for FC Barcelona to be able to press better and keep a compact block. This detail, keeping the defensive line high in high-pressing or mid-block defense, is a cornerstone of his standout performance over the last month where Barcelona has kept clean sheets for 4 matches in a row.

The young center-back excels at recognizing and anticipating scenarios where the opponent attempts to break through with passes behind the defensive line. Cubarsí shows excellent ability to read the situation and react quickly, anticipating the movements from the strikers who are attacking his back. This allows him to adjust his position and get to the ball before the attacker. In instances where anticipation isn’t possible, Cubarsí demonstrates his effort to fall back fast to tighten the defensive line, efficiently coordinating with the midfielders to reinforce the team’s defensive block.

Pau Cubarsí helping the team defend compact by keeping a high defensive line

Pau Cubarsí defensive line high

Here, we can see a clear example of how Cubarsí is keeping the defensive line high in a situation where the ball holder does not have time and space. This allows FC Barcelona to have a more compact block and press better.

Pau Cubarsí anticipating the defense of the space when the ball possessor is free and can make a pass behind the defensive line.

Cubarsí anticipate

In the same action, once the ball is passed to a player who has time and space, Cubarsí anticipates the movement from the striker and makes a run backward to protect the space behind the defensive line.

Build-Up Skills

Lastly, it’s important to highlight his performance on the offensive side. At just 17, he has become pivotal in FC Barcelona’s build-up play. His exceptional perception skills stand out. Cubarsí is constantly seeking information during the attacking phase – also during the defensive phase – which allows him to read better the game and make accurate decisions once he receives the ball.

Also, we want to highlight his natural ability to disguise the pass; not only does he have an excellent sense of positioning in the game, but he also cleverly confuses the opponent about the direction of the pass.

Pau Cubarsí choosing the best passing option to help the team progress

Cubarsi 3b

In this build-up phase, Cubarsí has several passing options. As we can see, he chooses and perfectly executes the pass that offers the biggest benefit to the team.

Pau Cubarsí switching the game when the opposing team has reduced their width

Cubarsi switch the game

The same happens in this action. Pau Cubarsí chooses the best option to further progress.

As a central defender, his insight into passing priorities is remarkable, identifying passes that offer the greatest benefit to the team. In addition, he shows the top quality needed to complete passes that surpass the lines of the opposing defensive block, contributing to the progression of the attack and the fluidity in ball circulation.

Additionally, his ability to deliver precise long passes is noteworthy. Cubarsí skillfully targets distant teammates in advantageous positions, shifting the ball to less congested areas. This talent not only expands the playfield but also secures tactical advantages for his team.

Pau Cubarsí possession skills, passing, turnovers

Pau Cubarsí_possession_Possession characteristics

Cubarsí has great influence in the game in number of ball touches, with very high passing accuracy and very few turnovers. This is key to ensure a good build-up performance for his team.


To conclude, it’s important to highlight the exceptional level that Pau Cubarsí, at 17 years of age, is demonstrating. Not only does he stand out for his deep understanding of the game but also because his mental strength. He has played matches at the highest level with F.C. Barcelona and has managed to handle the pressure incredibly well. We might be witnessing the rise of a center-back who could leave a significant mark on world football in the coming years.

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