Philippe Coutinho claimed his second cap for Brazil during the Selecao’s 1-0 victory over Colombia in Miami on Friday night. He came on as a 72nd minute sub in Dunga’s first game back as Brazil manager and will be delighted to be back in the international groove after frustratingly missing out on this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder will be hoping to cement his place in the national team from here on, but in order to do so he needs to perform at a consistent level for Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, has high hopes for him and believes that he could become “a real talent in world football” in the next four or five years.
Coutinho with his bundles of creativity and tactical brilliance is crucial to Rodgers’ plans. He impressed in the 4-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the pre-season friendly at Anfield last month, drawing out praise from his manager:
“His ability is just magical. His ability to get out of tight situations, his view of the game. That’s his best position too — playing between the lines, he tempts defenders out.
“You saw that with the ball he played around the corner for the first goal. It’s about sustainability with him now. He’s lit up this country with his quality. We are now going on to a big stage in Champions League and he will have chance to show that there, too.”
Yet, he is unconvincing to some and cuts a frustrating figure at times. He was dropped from the first team in the last match as Liverpool registered a comfortable 3-0 win against Tottenham at the White Hart Lane. His performances in the earlier two matches were below-par to say the least and now he faces a tough competition to get back into the first team. Although Daniel Sturridge is injured and will miss some matches after picking up a thigh injury whilst on international duty, Coutinho may still struggle to regain his place, especially with Lazar Markovic and the fit-again Adam Lallana back in the fold.
Coutinho has this natural ability to dribble past players and pick penetrative passes that can open up the opposition defence, but he also has this irresistible urge to play this killer passes at almost every single opportunity and more-often-than-not it fails to reach the target due to improper execution.
Out of 77 passes he has attempted this season so far, he has been successful with only one key-pass for his team. He probably lacks a bit of patience and composure, sometimes goes missing during the game and needs to improve his decision-making, especially with the ball in his feet in dangerous areas.
He is a terrific talent, brings so much creativity to this Liverpool side and might one day become one of the very best in the world as Rodgers envisaged, but inconsistency seems to be the only demon that could prevent him from reaching that pedestal.