Philippe Coutinho has long played a fringe role for the Brazilian national team, less important for his country than he is for his club. Now, though, under new Brazil manager Tite, it looks as though it’s Coutinho’s time to be given a chance to shine for his country as well.
“There’s a reason he is called the magician,” said the Brazil boss, speaking ahead of their game tonight against Bolivia. “With his passes, Coutinho opens the lines, creates spaces. I like his mobility, and he was influential in both games when he came on last month.
“It was a difficult decision for me, but right now, this is Coutinho’s moment. And in football, you have to follow the moment. The two appearances by him, his movement, the composition. It was done with his mastery, not because the opposition was tired.”
Coutinho, then, will start. As yet, the role of club teammate Roberto Firmino is less certain, though Liverpool’s two Brazilian stars have both travelled with the national team this month, deserved reward and recognition for their strong play at the club level.
However, that reward and recognition will mean two extra games and a long flight back from South America to Merseyside following the break. It’s a situation that in September led to Coutinho starting on the bench in the first match following his return from the Brazilian national team.
Fortunately, this time around there is a longer break—Liverpool don’t face Manchester United until Monday, giving the duo nearly a week off between Brazil’s second game against Venezuela late next Tuesday and that important club league match.
It’s a gap that has a lot of Liverpool fans upset, since it extends the international break by two days for them. But it’s a gap that might help Liverpool’s chances, ensuring Coutinho and possibly also Firmino are fully fit, rested, and ready to go.