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What does Pau Cubarsi’s Euro 2024 absence mean for Barcelona?

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Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Spain’s announcement of their Euro 2024 squad entailed a mixed bag of surprises.

In addition to stars like Aleix Garcia and Marcos Llorente being left out, Pau Cubarsi was also strangely denied the opportunity to represent his national colours on one of the biggest international stages.

Call-ups for Fermin Lopez, Ferran Torres, Pedri, and Lamine Yamal mean Barça’s representation remains strong.

However, the absence of one of their breakthrough stars from the tournament will have notable consequences, predominantly negative but with some positives.

1. History will not repeat itself

The perplexing case of Pedri in 2021 continues to raise eyebrows to this day.

After a successful season with Barça in which he was a nailed starter, Pedri went on to play in the Euros as well as the Olympics.

Unsurprisingly, being used like a bar of soap took a massive toll on the teenager’s physicality, with injuries following in quick succession.

Indeed, since the 2020/21 season, when Pedri played over 5,000 minutes across 72 games, he has suffered 9 injuries and missed 71 games. Before summer 2021, he had never been injured.

As such, Cubarsi’s exclusion may disappoint fans eager to see him in the Euros, but they can take solace in knowing that he will be well-rested and more likely to steer clear of injuries.

Cubarsi will not tread the same path as Pedri in 2021. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Considering the 17-year-old sensation had already played the majority of Barça’s games in 2024, the risk of injury was already looming large and thus this brief window of rest comes at an immensely opportune time.

2. Less experience on the big stage

Just as diamonds form under pressure, players build character when the lights shine brightest.

An international knockout tournament, especially one as prestigious as the Euros, is a true test of nerves and mettle. At the tender age of 17, Cubarsi continues to carry himself like an absolute veteran.

But his only experience playing in a high-stakes elimination match came during his time with Barcelona in the Champions League.

Given that the Catalans will be contesting against Real Madrid, the reigning Champions League and La Liga winners, next season, they will desperately require an experienced squad that can handle pressure situations.

Consequently, depriving Cubarsi of the opportunity to build his big-game portfolio could prove to be costly next season.

3. Cubarsi could miss pre-season and potentially start of the season

Cubarsi’s omission from the Spain squad for the European Championship virtually ensures his participation in the Olympic Games in France next month.

This would mean that the defender will not only miss the pre-season tour of the USA, but he might also be absent during the initial stages of the new season, especially if Spain advances far in the Paris Olympics.

His prolonged absence could impact team preparations with Barcelona and deprive him of the opportunity to familiarize himself with Hansi Flick’s system.

The new manager will be itching to get his hands on the talented centre-back next season, owing to his expertise on the ball and proficiency off it.

But with Cubarsi’s involvement in the Olympics all but confirmed, Flick may miss out on the opportunity to see Cubarsi in action in the pre-season or even at the start of the season.

Cubarsi could miss the start of the season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Flick is known to preach an expansive style of play with an emphasis on verticality and effective exploitation of space. To make this work, he relies on unerringly accurate long balls. And interestingly enough, that is Cubarsi’s bread and butter.

While many centre-backs can switch play and accurately pass in-behind, executing a pinpoint chip into central midfield requires exceptional trust in one’s pass accuracy and weight, given the high risk of a counter-attack.

And that is something the young Spaniard does with exceptional ease. Flick’s system is known to get cut open in defence and be exposed in transition, so the absence of a player as mature on the ball as Cubarsi in the initial stage of the season could be problematic.

Not having him within the ranks during the pre-season either, where Flick will get a better understanding of the team’s true potential, could hamper the German’s plans.

4. More competition in the squad next season

With Cubarsi unlikely to fall prey to injuries as his game time in the summer will be limited, Barcelona will benefit considerably from increased competition in the squad next season.

Currently, the team boasts several top centre-backs competing for just two main positions.

These include Inigo Martinez, Ronald Araujo, Pau Cubarsi, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, and Mikayil Faye. Eric Garcia is also expected to return following the conclusion of his loan spell.

With an abundance of options, the competition will be through the roof, and Cubarsi will have the opportunity to develop alongside experienced teammates, further bolstering Barcelona’s defensive strength.

The high level of competition will compel everyone to put up their A-game and thus, in the event that rotations have to be made, players will not let an opportunity to shine slip away.

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