For some reason, despite being Brazil’s best player during the Copa America, our magician playmaker Coutinho started on the bench during his country’s crucial World Cup qualifier versus Ecuador last night.
New manager Tite, on the back of Olympic Gold, preferred Willian and Renato Augusto in the wide positions, with Neymar just off Gabriel Jesus centrally.
Brazil haven’t won in Ecuador in a remarkable 33 years, mainly due to the immense altitude of the Ecuadorian stadium. They played in Quinto, 2.85km above sea level – and the fitness required left Brazil players physically ruined. For this reason, we’re over the moon Coutinho only got half an hour, as it’ll give him a better chance to be ready for next weekend against Leicester.
After 60 minutes, with the game at 0-0, Coutinho replaced Chelsea’s Willian and visibly changed the game – alongside the annoyingly brilliant Gabriel Jesus, signed in the summer by Manchester City.
First, the teenage striker won a penalty which Neymar converted, he was then involved with Coutinho in an excellent move which saw him score a second, and he made it 3-0 with a long range curler shortly afterwards.
Neymar => Coutinho => Marcelo => Gabriel Jesus
A look back at a graphical display of Brazil’s second goal. pic.twitter.com/wPhs3f3jGj
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats2) September 1, 2016
So in the 30 minutes Coutinho played, his country scored three goals and he linked up superbly with Neymar and the young prodigy.
This is all the more important considering last night’s match was a must-win.
Expect him to start next time out against Colombia on Wednesday, although if he does play the full 90, we expect Jurgen Klopp to maybe leave him out verses Leicester – as he’ll have only just travelled from the other side of the world…