Brazil coach Tite explains why he's picking Coutinho over Willian

The Liverpool star produced impressive performances coming on as a substitute in his last two games for the national team, while his manager insists it is his “moment” to shine

Brazil coach Tite has explained why he is opting for Philippe Coutinho ahead of Willian for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Liverpool star Coutinho, who has started the 2016-17 Premier League season in impressive form, is set to start the matches against Bolivia and Venezuela.

Willian had been preferred for Tite’s first two matches in charge but Coutinho’s displays off the bench have seemingly earned him a place ahead of the Chelsea star.

Origi to fight for Liverpool plan

“Why Coutinho instead of Willian? There’s a reason he is called the Magician [by Liverpool fans],” he told ESPN

“It was a difficult decision for me, but right now this is Coutinho’s moment. And in football, you have to follow the moment. 

“With his passes Coutinho opens the lines, creates space. I like his mobility, he was influential in both games when he came on.”

Tite’s first two games have resulted in wins, a 3-0 victory over Ecuador followed by a 2-1 win against Colombia and the 55-year-old says he wants to see his team maintain those standards.

“The three points with Ecuador are worth the same as the three of Argentina,” he added.

“The objective is to qualify.”

Brazil sit second in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, a point behind leaders Uruguay.

Liverpool carpool karaoke? Reds stars sing YNWA to training… and more

Dejan Lovren, Marko Grujic and Lazar Markovic enjoyed an eventful car ride to training one day that included initiation song recitals and prank calls


The Carpool Karoake craze has caught on and made its way to Liverpool, with three of the club’s stars made to sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

The club had Dejan Lovren pick up Marko Grujic and Lazar Markovic to training one day – after first installing cameras inside the defender’s car.

READ MORE | Grujic targets defensive improvement to become Liverpool starter

As well as being made to to sing their rendition of Liverpool’s anthem and their initiation song upon signing for a club, there was plenty of time for engaging in other sorts of tomfoolery.

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The journey involved Lovren making a prank call to Philippe Coutinho, telling him that his car had broken down and hurrying him to pick them up for training.

The trio also had to offer their craziest impression of fans cheering a Liverpool goal – we reckon they’re better at being footballers, though.

Klopp not completely satisfied despite Derby demolition

A second-string Reds side eased through to the last 16 of the competition thanks to a comfortable victory at the iPro Stadium but the manager feels his team can do even better

Jurgen Klopp praised his Liverpool players for a job well done after they eased to a 3-0 win over Derby County in the EFL Cup – but insisted there is still room for improvement.

Goalkeeper Loris Karius and midfielder Marko Grujic were handed their first starts as Klopp shuffled his pack following the 2-1 win over Chelsea in Premier League action.

Despite seven changes to the starting XI, Liverpool brushed aside their Championship opponents at the iPro Stadium to book their place in the last 16 of the competition.

Ragnar Klavan opened the scoring in the 24th minute before the visitors hit Derby with two goals straight after half time, Philippe Coutinho doubling their lead before setting up Divock Origi for a third.

“We were better and deserved to win, we created chances,” Klopp told LFC TV.

READ MORE | RATINGS: Coutinho runs riot in Liverpool win

“Could we have done better? Yes, a lot. Is it important? No, because that’s what you want to have. You need to be 100 per cent professional, be really serious and take games like these like they are.

“They could be difficult but it wasn’t difficult because of us. The opponent was ready for each opportunity but we didn’t give them [any]. So it was good.

“First half, we could have been a little bit better in the last pass. Second half, we could have been better in the counter-attack.

“That would have changed the result a little bit but we scored the goals, so it’s not that I would say ‘I would rather score this goal than this goal’. I take them like they are, 3-0, all good.”

Klopp was particularly pleased to give Danny Ings the opportunity to make his first appearance of the season.

The forward – who missed much of the previous campaign with a serious knee injury – replaced the impressive Coutinho in the 63rd minute.

“Of course [it was good to see him]. It was a difficult time [for him], I know this but, like all the others, he’s on a really good way and everybody can see this, I’m pretty sure,” the German manager added.

Fantasy: Premier League players to pick

Our fantasy football scout picks three players you should consider transferring into your team ahead of the weekend’s action

It’s week five of the English Premier League and there are some interesting matches to look out for.

If you haven’t started playing Goal Fantasy Football yet, don’t worry; it’s not too late to play as you can play to win weekly and monthly prizes so you won’t need to play catch up.

Every month, we are giving away a fantastic games console and the top manager at the end of the season will win a VIP match day experience.

It’s free to play, just create a team to enter.

Just remember to set up your team before the start of the first fixture which kicks-off on Friday night. Chelsea host Liverpool in what promises to be an exciting game between two title contenders.

Fantasy Pick: Phillipe Coutinho
Midfielder: Liverpool. Value £7.0m
Chelsea vs Liverpool. Friday, kick-off 8pm.

Liverpool should be confident after an almost perfect attacking display against Leicester City last week. Coutinho didn’t start that game but he should feature in the starting line-up this week.

The Brazilian enjoyed his last visit to the capital; he scored a brilliant free kick at Arsenal on the opening game of the season.

Expect Coutinho to take advantage of any space the Chelsea defenders give him. They were exposed against Swansea last week and they are sure to be severely tested by the movement of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge.

Coutinho scored twice in this fixture last season and is definitely worth picking for your team.

Fantasy Pick: Kevin De Bruyne
Midfielder: Manchester City. Value £7.8m
Manchester City vs Bournemouth. Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

The Belgian is in the form of his life and netted the opener in the Manchester derby last weekend.

De Bruyne is clearly enjoying playing for Pep Guardiola and benefiting from the excellent form of Fernandinho and David Silva, who play alongside him in midfield.

City host Bournemouth on Saturday, a team they scored 9 goals against last season and De Bruyne will surely be one of the first names on the team sheet.

The attacker has started all 4 games so far, racking up one goal and one assist.

Fantasy Pick: Erik Lamela
Midfielder: Tottenham. Fantasy Value £6.8m
Tottenham vs Sunderland. Sunday, kick-off 4.30pm.

Lamela seems to be enjoying playing under Maurico Pochettino at Tottenham and is starting to realise his potential.

He has impressed in the three games he started this season, scoring once and providing an assist.

Lamela is negotiating a contract extension with the club and its been reported that he is looking to double his salary at Spurs.

It will give him extra motivation to perform well on the pitch and he should get plenty of opportunities to prove his worth against lowly Sunderland on Sunday.

Download and Play for FREE!

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Everything you need to know to play the game can be found in the Help guides; how to pick your players, how to make transfers, scoring points, creating and joining leagues and how to set up head-to-head challenges with your friends to win app credits.

Neymar will be a greater leader for Brazil without the captaincy – Rai

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Studious Tite reaps reward for prep work with dream start as Brazil coach

With tactical shifts, new faces young and old, and six points from two games, a new-look Selecao is beginning to take shape under the new boss

Brazil coach Tite has grown accustomed to the making the most of his time.

Overlooked by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) in 2012 and 2014, he was finally handed the role in June but his decision not to lead the Under-23 side into the Rio Olympics left him with two months to fill.

Profile: New Brazil coach Tite | Brazil’s World Cup qualifying campaign so far  | 5 lessons from Brazil 2-1 Colombia | Douglas Costa: Brazil can win World Cup

On both occasions, he stayed busy. After leaving Corinthians in 2012 Tite spent his free-time travelling the globe, visiting some of Europe’s biggest clubs in order expand his knowledge of the game and fine-tune his philosophy of play.

Between his unveiling during this year’s Copa America and his official debut on the bench this month, he watched endless matches in the Brazilian championship, studied his first opponents, Ecuador, and travelled to the USA to cast an eye over Colombia at Copa America 2016. He also sent his son to Asia to observe the Brazilian nationals now plying their trade in the Chinese Super League.

Tite is a studious man, and his preparation paid off as he made a dream start to life with the Selecao. He opened his tenure by ending a 33-year wait for a Brazil victory in Quito before seeing off Colombia 2-1 in Manaus – two results that catapulted the Selecao into second-place in Conmebol’s World Cup qualifying table.

Widely considered to be head and shoulders above all other current Brazilian coaches, expectations were high, but back-to-back victories surprised even him.
“I try to find a balance, because there is a great burden of responsibility in this job, but it went rather better than I thought. I’m really very happy because the performances were even better than I expected.”

Those performances were a direct result of all the work Tite had done during a period when some would simply have sat scratching their heads.

With just three days to work with his players ahead of their trip to Quito, Tite had prepared meticulously for the Ecuador match. He’d identified that smart-passing midfielder Christian Noboa was key to the home side’s chances, and that neutralising him would be vital.

The scouting report he’d requested from Asia spoke positively of Paulinho, who’d played a major role the Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup victories Tite had achieved with Corinthians. 

Despite not having represented Brazil since a very disappointing showing at World Cup 2014, Paulinho returned and was put straight into the first team with a specific task: stop Noboa.

He did exactly that, and after another tactical tweak to slow the early progress of Jefferson Montero on the left side of Ecuador’s attack, Brazil ran away 3-0 victors thanks to an inspired performance from another debutant, Gabriel Jesus.

19-year-old Jesus had struggled at centre-forward in the Olympics, but Tite was convinced his pace and incisive running would stretch the play, open up the field to leave greater space between Noboa and his colleagues, and provide Brazil an outlet for the ball over the top.

Ecuador were restricted to just 38% possession at the altitude of Quito. Noboa attempted half as many passes and had around 40% less touches than he’d managed in his side’s previous home qualifier, against Paraguay.

Paulinho remained for the second of a World Cup qualifying double-header against Colombia, and fulfilled a similar function as he stamped out playmaker Macnelly Torres, who sets the tone and rhythm of Jose Pekerman’s side.

Utterly ineffectual, Torres was withdrawn five minutes into the second half and his direct replacement, Juan Cuadrado, was the player who failed to track Neymar for Brazil’s winner in the 2-1 victory.

 Another key aspect of Tite’s approach was how much his side concentrated their attacking play down the left side. All three goals against Ecuador resulted from attacking plays built on that side of the field, and so did Neymar’s winner against Colombia.

Naturally, the team is drawn to left-sided forward Neymar when in possession, but Renato Augusto, another who achieved success alongside Tite at Corinthians, has left his deep-lying playmaker role to operate as a left-midfielder in order to improve the supply-line to Neymar.

The recall of Marcelo in place of Filipe Luis also appears designed to assist Neymar in the Brazil attack. His Real Madrid colleague Casemiro was sublime as the lone pivot in midfield triangle that has been inverted under Tite, an attacking variation many of the local media have been demanding for decades.

Time and again he stamped out counter-attacks and, considerably more gifted on the ball than many of his predecessors in that role, it was his pass that made the key breakthough last week when a smart ball in behind Ecuador saw Gabriel Jesus race onto to win a vital penalty that gave Brazil the lead.

The one victim of Tite’s first week in the role appears to be Willian. The Chelsea wide-man has, arguably, been the Selecao’s most consistent player since World Cup 2014, but the concentration of play on the opposite side left him completely marginalised.

He was largely a passenger and was replaced by Liverpool’s Phillippe Coutinho in both matches. Coutinho has faced a wait of his own for a proper crack in the Brazil side and impressed in both cameos, leaving the right-side of Tite’s lop-sided 4-4-2 to operate almost as a second-striker alongside Gabriel Jesus to form a more penetrative 4-3-3.

A collectiveness and cohesion looks to have returned to the side, who are also pressing much more productively. 

“They all know that without the ball they will have to work hard,” Tite said. 

“Neymar will appear only if he is receiving the ball in the final third. Marcelo will appear only if Casemiro offers cover and Renato can provide the supply.”

There have been a number of interesting and productive practical changes under Tite, but there also appears to be a change in the emotional tone of the group.

The entire atmosphere around the Brazil camp changed following the dismissal of Dunga, a fierce and often misanthropic coach who appeared desperate to stress that the Selecao were forever at war.

A Marquinhos own goal and a reckless Neymar tackle that earned a booking just before the break to against Colombia could previously have been signs that Brazil were at breaking point. But Brazil kept their cool, even as they were repeatedly frustrated by a dogged Colombian defence in their hunt for a winner.

With Paulinho’s work for the evening already done, Giuliano – another former Tite alumni – was introduced to add some extra dynamism alongside Coutinho and it was the two substitutes who combined to create Neymar’s winner.

September continued the feel-good factor kicked off by August’s Olympic gold. Talk of winning World Cup 2018 may be premature, but Brazil are certainly looking better than they have in the two years since ‘the 7-1’.

“We are in a process of evolution,” says Tite. “The level of concentration and commitment is fundamental. This team already has a spirit and solidarity.”

Brazil will ride the wave of optimism for another month now as the Selecao return to qualifying action in October by hosting Bolivia before visiting Venezuela. Tite will no doubt spend the next four weeks hard at work.

Neymar exorcises ghosts, Paulinho pivotal and Willian on the brink – Five lessons from Brazil 2-1 Colombia

Brasil Global Tour looks back at the major talking points after new coach Tite made it two wins out of two with victory in Manaus on Tuesday


Tuesday saw new Brazil coach Tite complete a dream start to life on the Selecao bench, as Neymar sealed a 2-1 win over Colombia that completed their leap from sixth in the table to second place, just one point behind Uruguay on the long road to Russa 2018.

The result arrived just four days after this his debut brought a first win in Quito for 33 years as a teenage Gabriel Jesus inspired the Selecao to a historic victory.

Tite: Exciting times for Brazil | In Stats: Brazil 2-1 Colombia | Match Report: Neymar leads Brazil to victory

More than 36,000 packed the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus to see Neymar get one over on his old rivals this week as he hit the winning coal in the win over Colombia. 

Below, Brasil Global Tour look back at the five major talking points from Tite’s second game in the dugout.


The return of Paulinho to a Brazil squad for the first time since World Cup 2013 wasn’t a huge surprise, given his history of success with Tite at Corinthians in the first few years of this decade, but the decision to start him in both games did raise a few eyebrows. Paulinho did not pull up many trees against Ecuador or Colombia, but his contribution proved vital. The former Tottenham Hotspur man stopped the Ecuadorian midfield passing on Thursday and on Tuesday he nullified playmaker Macnelly Torres, who may well be Colombia’s most important player. There were no moments of magic from Paulinho, but he was decisive in both matches and looks set to stay with the Selecao.


It appears Neymar has exorcised the ghosts of Colombia past. After leading Brazil past them in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics, he once again made proved the match-winner as the senior side came to town. For long periods Brazil once again focused all their play down the left, and it paid off as Ney grabbed the winning goal to make it 48 goals for his country – a total that saw him equal the great Zico and become the fourth highest-scorer in the history of the national team


Prior to Tite’s appointment, Willian was arguably Brazil’s best player since World Cup 2014 – certainly one of the most consistent. However, he has had two frustrating evenings since the arrival of the new boss. With Brazil’s play so heavily focused down the left, with Renato Augusto playing almost as an outright left midfielder, Willian is seeing very little of the ball. As he was against Ecuador, Willian was replaced by Coutinho against Colombia and the substitute once more took up a central position among the strikers – on both occasions, this change has resulted directly in goals on what could otherwise have proved tough nights for Tite. Willian’s days in the starting elven may be numbered.


Two games, two wins. With very little time to meet some of this players, let alone work with his team, the former Corinthians man has got off to the dream start. He has also proved his salt tactically, making tweaks to his team both to stop the opponents playing and to freshen things up when they were needed at the latter stages of his first two matches in charge. The local media and fans alike have been mightily impressed with the new man charged with leading the five-time world champions into a new era.


Ahead of this round of qualifiers, there were some serious concerns that the world could be in store for a first ever World Cup without Brazil. Sitting in sixth position, having struggled under previous coach Dunga, the previous two years had thrown up little reason for optimism. But with a new coach, some new players, and a new leg of the marathon to Russia 2018, the sun is shining on the Selecao’s bright yellow shirts once more. South America’s long qualification process ebbs and flows, with early pacesetters Ecuador among those to have tired and drop back to joint he chasing pack. There will be many more twists and turns ahead, but Brazil are back on track.

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

'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.”

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.