Philippe Coutinho: Barcelona Misfit Misses Shot at Redemption in Anfield Horror Show

On the hour mark of perhaps the greatest Champions League semi final second leg of all time, Barcelona were reeling.

Their seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead from the first leg had been wiped out and manager Ernesto Valverde had a decision to make.


With his side struggling to contain the likes of Sadio Mane and Divock Origi in Liverpool’s attack, he decided to bring on right back Nelson Semedo in an attempt to shore up the team’s leaky defence.

His choice of who to bring off was not a surprise to anybody in the stadium or watching at home.

Following another abject display, former Liverpool star and Barcelona’s record signing Philippe Coutinho’s number seven was held aloft on the sidelines by the fourth official, and the Brazilian was forced to make an early exit.

In all honesty, it felt like he wasn’t even at Anfield on Tuesday.

It feels like the real Coutinho has never truly arrived at Barcelona.


When he joined the club for £142m in January 2018 it felt like the perfect signing, with the Brazil international seemingly set to replace Andres Iniesta on the left side of the midfield trio, the position he had been playing so well in for Liverpool.

On Tuesday night, as he has done for the majority of his Barca career, Coutinho was playing in his unfavoured role on the left side of the front three instead, supporting Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in attack.

His performance at Anfield was a microcosm of his career so far in Catalonia.

Philippe Coutinho

The 26-year-old looked nervous, regularly giving the ball away and being predictable whenever he did have possession.

He did not make enough of an impact and, just like in the first leg, was withdrawn to the delight of his own supporters who have been calling for his removal from the starting XI for the past few weeks and months.

Liverpool fans who watched him for years would have barely recognised the player in front of them.

Philippe Coutinho

The flair and ingenuity that led to his mega-money move were nowhere to be seen and it is clear that he is a player bereft of confidence.

This was his big chance to redeem his position at the club and he wasted it, a mark of zero for his performance from Spanish sports newspaper Marca summing up the way he had let this opportunity slip.

Even though he has only been at the club for 18 months it does feel like he needs to move on and, despite his poor run of form, he will have no shortage of suitors.


Coutinho remains an exceptional talent and he is the sort of player that successful teams can be built around.

A move back into a central role would be more beneficial for him as he is not as effective when starting too high up the pitch, receiving the ball with his back to goal.

When he is at his best he can be virtually unstoppable and he needs to join a side that can give him the platform to play at his optimum level, with the support of everyone at the club.


He does not have that at Barcelona but it is not too late for him to find it elsewhere.

He missed his opportunity to perform on Tuesday night but Coutinho is the sort of footballer who should be playing a major role in Champions League semi finals.

He is not the sort who should be replaced on the hour mark by a right back.


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