Isaac Cuenca, Ready For Big Games At Barcelona

Isaac Cuenca’s 2011/2012 season has been nothing short of eventful. Pep Guardiola promoted the winger from Barcelona B in August, and the 21 year old has featured in 18 games for the First Team since, impressing in each and every one. But it is the 2012/2013 season where Cuenca really should show his talent on the big stage.

In front of a packed Camp Nou in October 2011, Guardiola sent on Cuenca to replace David Villa in the dying minutes of Barcelona’s Champions League win over FC Viktoria Plzen. A week later, Pep handed the La Masia graduate a start, in the 1-0 win away to Granada. Showing raw pace and trickery with the ball at his feet, Cuenca looked dangerous. A week later, he opened his account for the club, scoring in the 5-0 defeat of Mallorca.

Pep Guardiola liked the width Cuenca brought to the team, as well as his intelligence both with and without the ball. His willingness to ‘hug the touchline’ freed up space inside for Leo Messi, whilst also providing Cuenca with regular one-on-ones with the opposing fullback, an opportunity to get to the byline and get crosses into the box.

But despite such exciting performances, Cuenca made just eleven starts in La Liga, as well as handful of Champions League appearances. Guardiola rotated his attacking trident, opting to play the likes of Andres Iniesta and Cristian Tello ahead of the young Spaniard. Pep saw Cuenca as a hot prospect, opting to tie him down until at least 2015, yet did not feel he warranted a regular starting place just yet.

Under Tito Vilanova however, this could be different. Guardiola admired the way Cuenca was never fazed by ‘big games’, where every game is just another football match. Coaches at Barcelona value this nerve, and Vilanova will no doubt be the same. 

With plenty of ‘big games’ in the next seasons calendar, Cuenca may well be called upon. And the young man will certainly be ready.
Posted by Reece, Guest Columnist