Brian Cufré is a 23-year-old left-back who is currently playing for Vélez Sarsfield. He is born on 15 December 1996 and came through the youth academy of Vélez Sarsfield, who also produced the likes of Diego Simeone, Mauro Zaraté and Nicolás Otamendi. Currently, Vélez Sarsfield have an exciting squad involving Thiago Almada, Lucas Robertone, Brian Cufré and Hernan De La Fuente. In this piece, I will make an analysis on the playing style of Brian Cufré.
Gabriel Heinze is at the helm of Vélez Sarsfield and he has developed an interesting playing style (article by Cam Meighan). There is a lot of variation in the build-up play involving Brian Cufré and these different styles will be briefly explained.
There are five different situations:
- Brian Cufré moves higher up the pitch in the half-space, while the left winger (mostly Janson) moves deeper on the wing or one of the midfielders (often Almada) drifts wide. The movement of Cufré creates space for a teammate to drift wide or drop deeper.
- Brian Cufré supports the build-up while moving into the half-space and opens up a passing lane centrally.
- Brian Cufré sticks close to the sideline while also dropping deeper to open up a passing lane sideways.
- Brian Cufré moves higher up the pitch while sticking close to the sideline and makes a run in behind.
- Brian Cufré moves centrally and shortly plays as a defensive midfielder, allowing central midfielders to drift wide but also being able to receive the ball and support the build-up.
His variety in positioning reflects good game intelligence and ability to fulfill tasks in a match, as well as being capable of changing his position in-game and playing in different positions. Brian Cufré has played some matches as a central midfielder and playing in this position has helped him to improve his handling speed and read the game better. This also allows him to play in more central positions at times to create even more variety. He is also very active in transition and is able to get into good positions often because of this.
During the times that Brian Cufré receives the ball in a wide position, he likes to play a powerful diagonal pass towards the center of the pitch and he often finds midfielders in space. Against Colón, this led to a pre-assist for the Argentinian left-back. The 23-year-old has a very good passing technique which allows him to play risky passes. He is capable of playing out of pressure and his good technique can also be seen when he plays crosses. Cufré occasionally plays early crosses and gets them into good positions, but it is often not the right choice.
The Argentinian defender is very active in trying to get into space to receive the ball in the build-up and is very much capable of linking up with his teammates in the tight spaces. Even on his own half, he likes to play one-two’s with teammates to play out of pressure and even though this sometimes does not work out – he sporadically seems to not control the ball perfectly as he gets his feet wrong – it is a very good thing to have especially with Cufré’s technique and ball playing ability.
In the final third, Cufré is capable of making both underlapping and overlapping runs and he is able to create space for the left winger (Janson) to cut inside, but also to find the space in behind himself to eventually give a cross. He is also able to arrive late with his runs. Brian Cufré often chooses to play a cross through the air and he gets them into good areas often but his crossing accuracy is relatively low at 20%. It would be more a better option to cut back at times and pass it backwards and build-up more patiently before sending in a cross.
When he finds himself in the box, he stays calm and composed on the ball and he is able to get past an opponent, despite not being the most agile player on the ball. He has good vision and is able to pick out the right pass in the box but he does not create a lot of chances, given that he has only made six assists throughout his career. Still, he has been an important player for Vélez Sarsfield in the attacking phase of play and would be an interesting player for teams that have a lot of variation in their build-up.
Moving over to his defensive ability, and it needs to be said that Vélez like to use man marking, especially when they are putting pressure. In defensive duels, he often keeps his distance with the attacker as he moves in the opposite way which could get him in trouble as he would need to turn and accelerate first. This would mean that the attacker gets a head-start and this is something he does well. When he does commit in a duel, he can be caught out. However, Cufré has good acceleration and pace and often manages to come back in the duels as he – when he loses the duel – mostly loses the duel on the opposites half.
In the 1v1 on the wing, he does well to keep looking at the ball and he manages to block a lot of crosses. He has good recovery speed and is able to help out the central defenders in transition. Cufré is hard-working and has good stamina to keep on running for 90 minutes. He is only 179cm, but Cufré is still able to win aerial duels as he times his jump quite well and he has a lot of power in his leg. When Vélez have possession in the final third on the right wing, Cufré moves inside to be able to recover possession when the ball gets cleared.
To conclude, Cufré is an exciting player who is definitely able to make a step up. Ideally, he would move to a top club outside the top 5 leagues. He should improve in some areas but has also showed a lot of good signs. I think that he has the potential to play for a top half team in the top 5 leagues and Spain could be a good destination for him in the future.