Juninho Bacuna starts the 2017/18 campaign as a 20-year-old with a point to prove. Can he now go on to command the Groningen midfield?

  • By Michael Statham
  • Follow Michael on Twitter @EredivisieMike


Bacuna came through the same academy as his brother Leandro – now at Aston Villa. Their age difference meant that they never played together in the Eredivisie, as Juninho made a series of substitute cameos during 2014/15.

The cup win of 2015 meant Groningen would play Europa League football the following season, but Bacuna was limited to only one appearance in Europe in addition to eleven starts in the league.

It was only in the last campaign that the midfielder was handed a bigger role in the team. A total of 26 matches included a mixture of highs and lows. At first, new manager Ernest Faber was forced to defend his teenage talent on three occasions – each time for a red card.

Some flat performances could be blamed on a poor team effort, which conspired in a ten-match winless streak. That was ended when Bacuna took the reins in a man-of-the-match contribution in a 2-0 win over NEC, including a through-ball assist and a beautiful strike from the edge of the area – Bacuna’s only goal of last season.

Sibling Leandro carries a lot of faith – as you can hear in our exclusive interview below…(from 5:52)

Style of Play

The number 7 is an all action midfielder with an emphasis on attacking play and creating opportunities.

That said, a record of one goal and three assists must improve if a big move further down the line is to come his way. What’s more, Bacuna’s discipline was a major concern during the last campaign, as he broke an unwanted achievement of being the youngest player to earn three red cards in an Eredivisie season, a record previously held by his brother.

Bacuna is on our Top 50 U21’s and Top 10 Dutch Wonderkids (see below) for a reason though. He has good vision from a deep, playmaking role with the ability to quickly play through-balls or hold on to the ball and dribble up the pitch and assess options. One of Bacuna’s highlights last season was an exceptional skill move accomplished against Heracles, and like Leandro, can hit a free-kick well.

Being deployed in the 8 role does also mean Bacuna must attain better tackling and simple passing, and realise the best time to unleash an ambitious pass or else his pass completion rate will continue to suffer.

What to expect from Bacuna this season

If Bacuna can work hard to remove his weaknesses, a decent player will emerge to push Groningen into the European play-off places. A more exciting squad surrounds the 20-year-old this time around and an improvement in crucial goals, assists and defensive work will see Bacuna enjoying his football and earning a big move – just like his big brother.

Michael Statham (763 Posts)

Writer/interviewer/YouTuber for Football-Oranje. Massive Dutch football fan from the UK. Follow me @EredivisieMike & subscribe to Football-Oranje on YouTube.