Brazil play France tomorrow at the Stade de France in Paris.  On Sunday, Brazil take on Chile at the Emirates in London.  You can use this thread to comment on both matches. 

While I completed an article on Philippe Coutinho yesterday, our own Dario made the suggestion to hold off on posting it until next week.  I decided to take his advice.  Since Brazil has two matches to play over the next few days, and since it will probably be a month (or more) until I can write something else, I’ll post the Coutinho article on Tuesday so that the span between articles won’t be quite as long.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak:

Despite the enormous strides Coutinho has taken, there are still elements of his game that need a lot of attention. Briefly:

  • Adapting to the national team. As much as I wish it were different, I expect Coutinho to come off the bench through the Copa America no matter what he does for Liverpool. Dunga has proven, time and time again, that your club form may win you a place on the team, but it’s your performance in the yellow shirt that matters. Dunga puts a huge premium on players who (in his eye) seize their opportunity at first offering, especially if that opportunity is limited to a few minutes off the bench. Coutinho can’t afford to “grow into a game.” He’ll need to be focused and ready to play so that he can impress in the short spurts he’s given. For Coutinho, every second on the pitch is an audition.
  • Speaking of adapting, Coutinho will also need to show he can adapt to the international game. For all the hoopla about how “rigorous” and “physical” England is, the Premier League is very much an attacker’s paradise…sometimes almost shockingly so. The average PL match will usually have a lot of space for Coutinho to operate in. Many English teams emphasize pace of play, on quick transitions from back to front. As such, you see a lot of open games on Sunday mornings.  Such conditions are a playground for Coutinho. But the international game is much slower, and defense is more of a priority. The worst teams will sit extremely deep; the best will be incredibly compact. Both can be difficult for a player like Coutinho, who, to reiterate, thrives by finding space. When space is in short supply, he suffers.

These are two of the six areas that I would like to see Coutinho improve in.  I post them here simply because I think both will be relevant against France and Chile.  The vast majority of my article is extremely positive, but there’s no use denying that there are still question marks surrounding Coutinho’s name.  The next two matches will hopefully serve as an excellent opportunity for Coutinho to provide an answer.