Coutinho, the third striker

After playing his first minutes against Bayern after nine months injured, Coutinho’s return allows Koeman to regain 4-3-3: now he can complete the attack.

Ronald Koeman changed the game system against Bayern For two reasons. It is not known in what order. One was voluntary, in his perspective that Bayern could cause an unstitch similar to 2-8 under the thesis – confirmation? – that this Barça is worse than the one that conceded it, and programmed a conservative team. The other reason was forced by injuries. He piled up defenders and midfielders because he had so many; he lined up only two forwards because he only had two for a hard crash: Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong.

Now he has three forwards and will play with three. Philippe Coutinho is the third.

The Brazilian was already available on Tuesday in the Champions League – the young man was also alignable Yusuf Demir, arrived this summer from Austria–, but Coutinho’s was the first call in nine months. He was going to reappear since his farewell on December 29, 2020 against Eibar. One unhappy night everything went wrong: A draw against a lesser rival, Braithwaite missed a penalty and Coutinho, who replaced Pjanic in the 65th minute, could not even finish the game. He limped off, aching in his left knee. Four days later he was operated. From a tear of the external meniscus. The same injury that had separated Ansu Fati a month and a half earlier.

Coutinho has already returned. It will not complete the 90 minutes, however. But today he is Barça’s third striker and allows Koeman to recover “the basic 4-3-3” against Granada, forced by the need to win immediately, to improve the game, to repair the image in front of the fans and by the least entity of the adversary with respect to Bayern. Despite the fact that the Andalusian triumph in April (1-2) ruined Barça’s options in the League.

Koeman’s confidence

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Coutinho continues at Barça for Koeman’s will, who trusts him. He scored three goals and gave two assists in the 14 games he played. He has 23 goals and 14 assists in the three seasons he has dressed as a Barça player, not counting his loan to Bayern.

The team is not going to dispense with the Brazilian’s talent while Bratihwaite, recently operated, is still out; Kun Agüero who works alone with a physiotherapist; Dembélé, still in the gym and the Messiah Ansu Fati, who returns little by little from his long journey, longer than Felipe’s.


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