We caught up with Julián during the Fieldoo Challenge with UD Almeria to talk about penalty saving, comparing top flight divisions and his advice to young goalkeepers.
Julián Cuesta is a goalkeeper from Granada who has played for Sevilla before joining UD Almeria in January 2014. He’s been on Tottenham’s radar after a good season in La Liga but has stayed in Andalusia. He’s only 24 years old but has plenty of experience defending against world top strikers from both La Liga and Segunda Divison. He was born in Campotéjar, Granada, in Andalusia, but has played youth football with Sevilla FC.
After getting into Sevilla’s first team Julián soon moved to UD Almeria while famous Aleix Vidal went in the opposite direction. Julián is a 195 cm tall and modern goalkeeper who has been described by the british media as being a great asset due to his reach and aerial ability. We talked with Julián after his morning training session and he opened up on his favourite goalkeepers, important qualities for goalies and strikers that were the hardest to defend against.
What’s the difference between playing in La Liga and Segunda Division?
Julián: The game in Segunda Divsion is more direct. Teams are more focused on physical contact, while the emphasis in La Liga is on the quality of the game. This allows for greater freedom to develop the game through the players’ technical qualities such direct plays, heading abilities and footwork.
Where do the teams create more chances to score a goal, in La Liga or Segunda Division?
Julián: There are more scoring chances in Segunda Division because the teams shoot from all available angles and try to score headers from greater distances. In La Liga, teams are more creative in setting up potential goals which result in better chances to score.
What’s the most important quality a goalkeeper should have?
Julián: That depends on the physical structure of the goalkeeper. Nowadays, it’s the tall goalies who are in demand, because they possess good abilities to control the ball in the air and with their feet, while smaller goalkeepers are typically faster and more explosive. In my opinion, a good goalkeeper needs to have all three of the above mentioned qualities: good technique with their feet, great control of the game in the air and has good reflexes between the posts.
What is your advice to young goalkeepers trying to become professional footballers?
Julián: Being a goalkeeper is quite complicated because it involves going through positive and difficult periods in each game. The only thing that holds true is that the position is different and more separated from the other players on the team. These aspects have a certain effect on you and every goalkeeper needs to cope with good and bad periods. It’s an isolated position and you need to be very focused and mentally stable to be able to keep going strong even when you make a mistake.
Where do you see yourself in three years from now? What is your favourite league beside La Liga?
Julián: I’ve always said I want to play in La Liga, which is definitely one of the very best leagues in the world. At the same time, I always liked the English leagues. My goal is to improve day by day, to train hard and to fight for a stable future.
Who is your favourite goalkeeper playing in Spain right now?
Julián: I like Jan Oblak very much. He’s almost a perfect goalkeeper, very young and with a great career ahead of him. Besides Jan Oblak, I was surprised by Keylor Navas, whom I have been following since his days at Levante FC. He’s very fast and a hard working goalkeeper who earned his place with his performances on the pitch.
Which players were the hardest to compete against?
Julián: Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann in the previous season when we played in La Liga. This year that player would be Iago Aspas form Celta Vigo when we faced them in Copa del Rey. He’s a really good player.
Do you have any special techniques for penalty saving?
Julián: A goalkeeper should always study the opposing team’s penalty shooters. Most teams leave the penalties to certain players which you can study during the week. During the penalty, there’s also room for small psychological games. My strategy is to pick a corner to cover and hope for the best.