TEAM NEWS: Coutinho starts but no Can for Liverpool at Tottenham

The 24-year-old is named in the first 11 after missing Tuesday’s cup encounter, but the midfielder is ruled out with a concern sustained in that game

Philippe Coutinho has shaken off a tight hamstring to slot straight back into Liverpool’s starting line-up for the test at Tottenham, but Emre Can is not in the matchday squad as he nurses an ankle problem.

The Brazilian sat out the 5-0 win over Burton Albion in the League Cup due to the niggle, but is restored to the attack alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

The trio combined superbly last time out in north London against Arsenal, and will want to repeat that at White Hart Lane. 

Daniel Sturridge, who scored twice off the bench in Tuesday night’s cup encounter, is held in reserve. Divock Origi suffered with cramp in that fixture, but is also among the substitutes.

Can, meanwhile, picked up the setback at the Pirelli Stadium and will not be risked. “He had a little pain in his ankle without any touch – I couldn’t see any contact,” Jurgen Klopp explained in his pre-match media conference. 

“It was a long leg, then a little bit floppy and then he had pain.

“But it is not that serious. It’s not that big [of a] pain anymore, but it’s the ankle he had problems with at the end of last season, so he’s a little bit worried.

“Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”

Joel Matip starts his first Premier League game for Liverpool, with Ragnar Klavan out due to a minor knock. 

Lucas, who played 45 minutes for the Under-23s in their 3-1 victory over Arsenal on Friday, is named on the bench.

Tottenham, on the other hand, have made just one change from the side which started their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last time out, with Dele Alli replacing Vincent Janssen in the starting lineup. 

Tottenham starting XI: Vorm, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Wanyama, Eriksen, Alli, Lamela; Kane

Subs: McGee, Carter-Vickers, Davies, Onomah, Winks, Janssen, Son

Liverpool starting XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mane, Coutinho, Firmino

Subs: Manninger, Lucas, Moreno, Stewart, Grujic, Origi, Sturridge

27

08 2016

'Phenomenal' Coutinho can match Messi and Ronaldo – Heskey

The former Liverpool striker has lauded the Brazilian, who scored a superb double in the Reds’ 4-3 win over Arsenal on the opening weekend of the Premier League season

Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey believes “phenomenal” Philippe Coutinho has what it takes to reach the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Coutinho, 24, grabbed the headlines as he scored a magnificent double in Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Arsenal on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.

Messi and Ronaldo are widely regarded as the two best players in the world, having shared the last eight Ballon d’Or awards between them.

And Heskey believes former Inter man Coutinho can match the star duo if he manages to improve his consistency. 

“I think he’s got the ability to [match Messi and Ronaldo]. I think he’s got just as much ability as them and we’ve seen it in spurts. We need to see it more on a constant level now. His skills are phenomenal,” Heskey told Omnisport.


GOALREAD MORE  | Liverpool reject Palace’s Benteke bid


“I’ve seen it when he was at Inter and some of the videos that you see from there in training … wow. He’s a phenomenal player.

“And some of his visions… You know when you are closing someone down and you think that you’ve got him and he does a trick and you’re wondering ‘how did he actually do that and how did he know I was coming in behind him?’ You’re thinking he’s got eyes in the back of his head. He’s got that sort of vision.

“Those players come round only once in a lifetime really. He’s a phenomenal player. That’s why he’s going to have teams interested in him, but he is a massively important player to Liverpool.  

“Some of the stuff that he does you’re like ‘this is a young lad’. [He’s] still young now to be fair, but he needs to take it to that next level. I believe he can do that, but it’s a mentality thing not a talent thing. Mentality wise that’s where we have to question it.”

16

08 2016

Coutinho and Mane combine to lift Liverpool and loot Arsenal

The Brazilian scored twice and created another of his club’s four goals at the Emirates on Sunday, while the Senegal international was scorching on his debut

Pep Lijnders had the perfect description. “Phwoar, machine!,” he succinctly declared when talking about Liverpool’s £30 million signing Sadio Mane. 

The Senegal international, recruited from Southampton at the end of June as the Reds’ third most expensive purchase ever, provided another sample of why he’s more than worth the hefty sum in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Arsenal.

Not only did he display his strength, speed, skill and surety when toying with Nacho Monreal and Calum Chambers before tucking his effort into top corner for Liverpool’s fourth of the evening, the 24-year-old was industrious throughout on his competitive debut for the Anfield side.



GOALREAD MORE  | Klopp: We celebrated too soon


He completed the most take-ons in the match, notched the highest ball recoveries and topped the tackles table.

Even when Liverpool were indecisive and passive at the onset of the first half, Mane was a constant source of promise for the visitors at the Emirates.

He fed the feet of Philippe Coutinho when the Brazilian drew a foul off Rob Holding, before perfectly executing the resulting free-kick. 

Liverpool did not deserve to be level on the balance of play after Theo Walcott’s opener, yet their two-time Player of the Year got them back in the game with another stunning curler to add to his weighty catalogue. “Maybe our first goal of the season, will be our goal of the season!” Jurgen Klopp said of the strike, which he also labelled ‘genius.’

When Coutinho turns it on, he turns defences inside out and the game on its head, as was the case against Arsenal. 

The attacker followed up the equaliser by flicking on cleverly for Gini Wijnaldum, who provided a lofted pass to Adam Lallana for Liverpool’s second.

The 24-year-old then treated himself to another goal after anticipating Nathaniel Clyne’s low cross into the box and finishing past Petr Cech again. He could have recorded a hat-trick right afterwards after being set up by his compatriot Roberto Firmino, but the Arsenal stopper was finally able to foil him. 

Coutinho and Mane embraced at the final whistle, both praising each other’s contribution. The latter looked to be telling his team-mate that he was the match-winner, but Coutinho shook his head and pointed back at Mane as if to suggest it was he who made the difference.

In truth, both players provided the inspiration for Liverpool to record a thrilling triumph to start 2016-17 off positively. 

It was far from a surgical performance from Klopp’s side, but the pair were luminary when the Reds needed it most. 

Ragnar Klavan, who made the most clearances – of the headed variety too, also enjoyed a solid debut despite conceding thrice.

And Wijnaldum, the final player making his bow for the Reds in north London, elevated his display in the second 45, contributing to Liverpool’s second and third goals.

Last season, Coutinho had to do too much on his own too often. That shouldn’t be case anymore given the quality Klopp has injected into his attack,  and especially with Mane looking tailor-made for the manager’s blueprint. 

15

08 2016

Coutinho excited by 'fast' Liverpool recruits

The signings of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum from Southampton and Newcastle have excited the Brazil international, who is looking forward to witnessing their impact

Philippe Coutinho is excited by Liverpool’s newest recruits Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, and believes the former is “too fast”. 

Mane and Wijnaldum have both signed long-term deals at Anfield this summer, becoming Jurgen Klopp’s latest additions to his squad ahead of the 2016-17 Premier League season.

Playmaker Coutinho is excited to see what both players will bring to the team, and is especially looking forward to the pair injecting significant pace into the club’s attack.

“I am looking forward to playing with them. They’re both very good players and fast players, so maybe you can pass a long ball and they’ll arrive to it,” the Brazil international told Liverpool’s official website.

“But it’s not only them, the squad is very good and there are a lot of good players. I hope we can all do a good job together this year.

“There are a lot of players now and there is good competition in the squad, which helps you to get better and helps the team.

“It’s been very good playing with Sadio so far, but if anything he’s too fast! That’s good because you need this in your game. Everyone is very happy with him – he is a nice guy and very good player.

“The new signings are] very good for Liverpool and the squad because there is good competition to play. Everybody wants to be involved and that’s good for the club.”

25

07 2016

Five lessons from Brazil 0-1 Peru

Brasil Global Tour look back at the key talking points from the Selecao’s early Copa America Centenario exit on Sunday


GOALANALYSIS

Brazil saw their Copa America Centenario campaign come to a premature end on Sunday as a controversial 1-0 defeat to Peru sent them crashing out at the group stage.

It was the first time since 1987 that the Selecao have failed to make it past the first round of a Copa America tournament.

Dunga’s expansive side made a good start to the match, impressing in the first half with an attacking 4-2-3-1 that saw Santos playmaker Lucas Lima replace the suspended Casemiro – an approach the coaching staff had been experimenting with since the Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour victory over Panama last month.


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Report: Brazil 0-1 Peru | WATCH: Peru’s controversial winner | Dunga balsts referee


But the eight-time South American champions failed to turn their dominance into a lead and ultimately went out to a Raul Ruidiaz winner 15 minutes from time.

Below Brasil Global Tour looks back at some of the key talking points from the Selecao’s early exit.

Coutinho’s no-show

After the victory over Haiti brought a brilliant performance from hat-trick hero Philippe Coutinho, all eyes were on the Liverpool man to continue to deliver in the final third. But this time out he could not have the same impact.

A number of misplaced passes as Brazil lost their rhythm in the second half meant he failed to settle into the game and was nowhere near as deadly as he had been in front of goal last time out. Coutinho had waited so long for an opportunity to be a real protagonist for his country, but the team’s lack of cohesion after the break made it very difficult for the Liverpool man who will no doubt go on to be a future star of the national team.

Gabigol – close but not quite close enough

The past couple of weeks had seen Santos starlet Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa grow from promising youngster into bonafide senior international, coming off the bench to hit two goals in three substitute appearances as he made his first steps in the national team.

Against Peru he was handed his first Brazil start and twice went close to breaking the deadlock in the first half. First he received a low pass and turned expertly to roll a shot towards the far corner, but was denied by a fine save. Then he hit a snap shot that stung Pedro Gallese’s hands but was not accurate enough to beat him. Gabigol was replaced by Hulk with 20 minutes remaining. It was a disappointing ending to a whirlwind few weeks for the 19-year-old, but he’ll be back in August to star at the Olympics.

Dunga’s brave approach doesn’t pay off

With no Casemiro and youngster Walace the only outright defensive midfielder at his disposal, Dunga took the bold approach of fielding a midfield without a holder to sit in front of the back four. The position has become so entrenched in Brazilian football that it was an extremely brave decision from a coach previously criticised for his pragmatic approach.

But despite his courage to take the game to the opposition and introduce more possession to his side, the second-half performance was well below par as his side failed to create clear-cut chances and ultimately bowed out to a goal conceded on the counter-attack.

Subsitutions fail to make the difference

As his side struggled to find the sort of cohesion they showed in the first period, local commentators insisted that changes were needed if Brazil were to arrest their sudden decline. Six late withdrawals had left Dunga without a number of his preferred options from the bench.

The Selecao needed something extra, but only one change was made as Hulk came on to replace Gabigol. Perhaps the likes of Lucas Moura and Paulo Henrique Ganso could have added something extra. Regardless, the one change Dunga did make so very nearly paid off but Elias couldn’t convert a glaring opportunity at the death after a fine cross from Hulk.

Refereeing failure

As Ruidiaz and his colleagues set off towards the corner flag in wild celebration, it was clear to see that something wasn’t quite right. Brazil goalkeeper Alisson led the protests, insisting the Peru attacker had used his hand to swat in a cross that was bending behind him.

The referee and his assistants took almost six minutes deliberating over the incident, with everyone in black appearing to have missed the handball. The big screen in the stadium would later show it was clearly Ruidiaz’s hand that sent the ball into the net. But it didn’t matter. Brazil were behind and they would bow out.

14

06 2016

Filipe Luis: Uruguay elimination serves as Brazil warning

After two straight defeats sent Luis Suarez’ side packing from the Copa America Centenario, the Atletico Madrid full-back has urged Brazil to avoid the same fate

Filipe Luis has urged Brazil to take Uruguay’s elimination from the Copa America Centenario as a warning.

A 1-0 defeat to Venezuela followed a loss to Mexico in Uruguay’s opening match, resulting in an early exit from the competition for the most successful country in the competition. 

Star striker Luis Suarez sustained an injury while representing Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final in May, and was unable to return to fitness in time to feature in either match for the 15-time champions.

Brazil head into their final Group B match against Peru with a place in the quarter-finals still not secured, and Filipe Luis is determined not to suffer the same fate as Uruguay.

“Uruguay’s elimination serves as a warning. It’s a complicated competition, everyone wants to win and there is no easy game,” said Filipe Luis.

“Uruguay have a great team but ended up losing their first game – obviously they felt the absence of Suarez.

“But we are in a good moment, we are growing every day. I believe that we are more prepared than anyone.”

After a dour goalless draw against Ecuador, Brazil sprung to life with a 7-1 thumping of Haiti in their second group match.

Philippe Coutinho struck a hat-trick in the resounding victory, and Filipe Luis hailed his understanding with the Liverpool forward.

“Playing with Coutinho is easy,” he added. “He’s a very quick player who dribbles well.

“He knows how to play out wide, and my job is no just to go past and help him, is also to give the greatest number of passes to him in space around the opposition right-back.

“I have an understanding with him, I know the movements he likes to make, but firstly my function is defensive.” 

12

06 2016

Sell Coutinho? No! There's no price tag for progress

The Reds need to reject any offer for the Brazilian, regardless of the fee involved as the playmaker is nowhere close to his ceiling and has proved pivotal for the club

Here Liverpool are again. Another summer, another scenario where clubs are circling around their best player.

Paris Saint-Germain are heavily considering luring Philippe Coutinho to the French capital. And they will not be the only European powerhouse sniffing around the Brazilian, who netted a hat-trick in a 7-1 Copa America crushing of Haiti on Wednesday night. 

Neymar has been unequivocal about wanting his countryman at Barcelona, while Filipe Luís has stated ‘O Magico’ would be more than welcome at Atletico Madrid. More stellar showings at the 16-team tournament will invite more admirers.

He is a stunningly gifted player capable of the simple, the sublime and mixing graft with guile. He only turns 24 next week, and is nowhere close to his ceiling. Coutinho’s best years are ahead of him, and Liverpool need to ensure most of those are spent on Merseyside. 

They are expected to bat away any approaches for the playmaker, and if the club are intent on being formidable in future, the Reds need to stick to the ‘not-for-sale’ stance at present.

Over the past two summers, Liverpool have watched Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling walk away. The Uruguayan, unquestionably one of the world’s premier players, was always going to move on. And when he did, the Anfield side lost genuine, unrelenting quality. The former captain, past his playing peak but still in possession of the kind of authority the club requires, should have been convinced to stay. 

The Sterling saga was toxic, and Manchester City paid an English record fee for the attacker, but the Reds ceded an excellent player of only 20 at the time, who felt they couldn’t match his ambitions.

Regardless of how he handled matters, that is a damning indictment. 
 

If the trend continues and Coutinho is allowed to make a switch this summer, when does the talent drain stop? Who will be next? Emre Can? Divock Origi if his exponential development continues? 

Liverpool’s squad has plenty of industry, but is lacking inspiration and to lose some of the current stardust would be criminal. 

Attacking players are already at a premium, with the Reds themselves acutely aware of how hard it is to land stellar creative sparks. 

Months of selling the club to Mario Gotze is currently at the stage where it is looks unlikely that he will opt to move to Anfield. Liverpool switched focus to Sadio Mane, and Southampton will play hardball over the Senegal international, who is set to command a £30 million fee. 

What then, is Coutinho worth? How do you put a price on progress? Because if the former Inter man departs, Liverpool are back at square one needing to replace their reigning two-time Player of the Season. Who would they target? And at what fee? How long would it take a new buy to get to where Coutinho is – a reference point for the team? 
 

Since signing the Rio-born virtuoso on 30 January 2013 for just £8.5 million, whom have Liverpool recruited that has proved to be better? Can and Roberto Firmino are excellent purchases, but neither are at the stage yet where they can help galvanise the dressing room and routinely decide a game.

Suarez said it. Gerrard said it. And Liverpool must know it: Coutinho is the player to build this team around. He provided many of the standout moments of 2015-16, as he did in the campaign prior. There are currently very few players at Anfield who entice and excite the crowd, he is atop that list. 

Coutinho has spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Reds: for two of them, fans and his peers have voted him the main man. For the other year and six months, Suarez described him as “the difference that makes Liverpool.”

And he is only getting started. Just swinging into stride.

The acquisition of Jurgen Klopp last October has been the greatest show of ambition Liverpool have managed in the last decade. 

They need to match that by standing firm over their premier players. 

The club are still recovering from the sales of the likes of Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso, they cannot continually add to the inventory of high-profile outgoings and expect to be a constant force. 

Liverpool need to thwart the trend. They need to line up with Coutinho next season. 

If the Reds want to land great players, they need to start by keeping the few they’ve currently got. 

10

06 2016

Gabigol stars in Coutinho show – Five lessons for Brazil from 'the 7-1'

Brasil Global Tour look back at the key talking points from the Selecao’s 7-1 Copa America demolition in Orlando on Wednesday


GOALANALYSIS

After kicking off their Copa America Centenario campaign with a disappointing stalemate against Ecuador, Brazil roared back into life on Wednesday as they demolished Haiti by a historically significant 7-1 scoreline.

The Selecao were in desperate need of a good performance to get their tournament off and running. Two years on, they are still living a post-World Cup 2014 existence.

But, last night, when people referenced ‘the 7-1’, Brazil could ask, ‘which one?’.


GOALREAD MORE: GOAL
Report: Brazil 7-1 Haiti | WATCH: Coutinho’s stunning hat-trick | PROFILE: New Brazil star Walace


Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho, in the first team thanks to the absence of Neymar, delivered on his promise with a stunning hat-trick against a Haitian side who simply couldn’t contain the five-time world champions.

Below, Brasil Global Tour looks back at five talking points from the match.

The Coutinho show

Dunga revealed he had spoken to Coutinho prior to the match to make it clear the time had come for Brazil to see the player who has starred for Liverpool, urging the midfielder to take more responsibility in the attack. The 23-year-old duly obliged. Back in the first-team this month and desperate to improve on a showing at last year’s Copa America that initially cost him place in the squad, Coutinho starred from the outset.

Floating from his position on the left, he twice jinked inside to hammer shots past Haiti goalkeeper Johnny Placide, and ghosted in for a tap-in after some fine approach play from Willian and Jonas. Coutinho quadrupled his previous international tally and now looks set to play a major role in Brazil’s fortunes at Copa America.

Gabigol demotes Jonas

Despite the excellent first-half performance, Dunga shuffled his pack at the break by withdrawing lone striker Jonas for the second consecutive match. Jonas had been unfortunate not to score, with Willian uncharacteristically playing a sloppy pass when he should have provided Jonas a tap-in.

Once again, Gabigol came in and this time made an immediate impact, taking his goal superbly. The 19-year-old Santos star offered Brazil another dimension: his endless desire to run in behind the defence not only provided a cutting edge and a vertical outlet ball, it also stretched Haiti to provide a talented Brazil midfield more space to exploit. Gabigol now his two goals in just three appearances for Brazil (all as a substitute) and appears to have dislodged Jonas from the first-team.

Another revolutionary 10 minutes

The only sour point of a fine first-half showing from the Selecao was the yellow card to Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro. It was his second in two matches, meaning he will now miss Brazil’s final group game against Peru on Sunday. He operated as the pivot in the midfield three, with Elias shuttling and Renato Augusto charged with adding the guile.

Casemiro was replaced by Lucas Lima after an hour as Dunga shifted to a 4-2-3-1. This was significant because, for the second time in three games, Brazil lined up without a single specialist defensive midfielder – a ploy previously unimaginable for a nation who has always depended heavily on its volante; for the past 30 years, there’s usually been two of them. As in the match against Panama, however, the experiment didn’t last long. Haiti pulled one back and Dunga instantly responded by handing Walace his debut and restoring the natural order.

Walace to restore the natural order?

Dunga’s July 2014 arrival disappointed some in Brazil who had called for a complete overhaul of the national game following the infamous defeat to Germany. The ultimate pragmatist, Brazilian football was reverting to type, they said. Indeed, though he introduced a false no.9 and worked his team hard in training on possession-based drills, Dunga’s style up until this month was still fairly conservative, with the team looking to do damage in transition.

The last month has seen a departure from that, but will Dunga remain bold? Twice now his volante-less approach has received just a cameo. Casemiro’s suspension is most likely to result in a like-for-like replacement. Did Walace do enough? Or will Sao Paulo’s Rodrigo Caio come in as he did against Panama? Lucas Lima will hope fortune favours the brave.

Renato Augusto, sharpshooter

Renato Augusto has become something of a joker in Dunga’s pack, with the coach telling Brasil Global Tour last month that the former Corinthians man’s ability to operate in a number of different central midfield roles provides the side with great flexibility.

Of the midfield three, Renato Augusto was once again tasked with playing furthest up the field, but dropped a little deeper when Lucas Lima arrived as a second-half substitute. Renato Augusto fonud the net from both roles and now has four goals in his last six appearances for Brazil. A worry ahead of the tournament was where the goals were going to come from. On Wednesday Renato Augusto provided an answer.

09

06 2016

Coutinho took his Brazil chance – Dunga praises Liverpool man's hat-trick

The midfielder is deputising in the side for the absent Neymar at Copa America and starred with three goals in the Selecao’s historic 7-1 win over Haiti on Thursday

Dunga believes Philippe Coutinho is growing in confidence after the attacker scored a hat-trick in Brazil’s demolition of Haiti at the Copa America Centenario on Wednesday.

Coutinho netted a first-half double and completed his haul in stoppage time as Brazil romped to a 7-1 victory in Group B at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

The 23-year-old Liverpool star had only ever scored one international goal before kick-off in the United States, despite netting 28 in total during his four years at Anfield.

“Coutinho is taking advantage of his opportunity. He has been following us,” Dunga told reporters.

“Every game and every practice his confidence is growing.

“We talked with him for him to be the Coutinho of Liverpool, dictate play, lead and take risks.”

Wednesday’s rout was a much-needed response for Dunga’s Brazil, following last week’s goalless draw against Ecuador.

While Coutinho stole the show, Renato Augusto scored two goals of his own as substitutes Gabriel and Lucas Lima came off the bench to inflict more misery on the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-finalists.

“This is a different group of players. It’s another era,” Dunga added, after Brazil were on the receiving end of a 7-1 drubbing against Germany at the 2014 World Cup. 

“We try to do our part by putting into practice what we train. The goals happened as the team had a positive performance. 

“We had a few passes go astray due to the pitch, but we can not use that as an excuse. We will fix this in practice.”

09

06 2016

WATCH: Coutinho scores brilliant hat-trick for Brazil

The Liverpool midfielder shined for the South American giants against Haiti in the Copa America Centenario and you can watch every goal in the above highlights video


Philippe Coutinho lit up Brazil’s Copa America Centenario clash with Haiti on Thursday, scoring a superb hat-trick in their thumping 7-1 victory and you can watch all of his goals above!

The Liverpool midfielder scored two stunning long-range drives against the minnows, and also turned home Jonas’s precise cut-back as Brazil ran riot.

Renato Augusto netted a brace in the victory, with Gabriel Barbosa and Lucas Lima also on the scoresheet.

Watch Coutinho’s goals above!

09

06 2016