Brazil’s coach Tite said that he selected Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho over Chelsea’s Willian for his national side because the Merseyside-based player is ‘a magician’.
Tite replaced Dunga as the head coach of Brazil after the side’s disappointing performance in the Copa América Centenario during the summer. Chelsea midfielder Willian played in the manager’s first two games in charge of the national side when they took on Ecuador and won 3-0 before beating Colombia 2-1. Coutinho appeared from the bench in both performances and impressed enough to mean that Tite preferred the 24-year-old for the national side’s matches against Bolivia and Venezuela.
Coutinho has started well for Liverpool so far this season, making eight appearances and scoring four goals. He is one of the first names on Jürgen Klopp’s team sheet, dovetailing well with his compatriot Roberto Firmino to help the Reds get off to a decent start in the German manager’s first full-season. That start included a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in which Willian under-performed.
Speaking ahead of the matches in his press conference the Brazil manager backed-up his decision and confirmed that he agrees with the Liverpool fans over the nickname they have given their player. He said, “Why Coutinho instead of Willian? There’s a reason he is called the Magician. It was a difficult decision for me, but right now this is Coutinho’s moment. And in football, you have to follow the moment”.
Tite is hoping to carry on his winning start since taking over from Dunga and believes that Coutinho’s movement is what makes him such a good addition to the Brazil team. He said, “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 confidence in Coutinho’s ability to work with the Brail team was based on the fact that he set up Neymar for the 74th minute strike that secured the 2-1 won over Colombia in September. It was confidence that was rewarded in the first of their World Cup qualifiers double-header, with Coutinho scoring Brazil’s second goal against Bolivia before taking the corner that his Liverpool team-mate Firmino scored the side’s fifth goal from in the 75th minute to complete a 5-0 rout.
As well as his four goals Coutinho has also created two assists for his Liverpool team-mates. Willian, by comparison, has scored two goals but has failed to register an assist in the six Premier League appearances he’s made for Antonio Conte’s Blues side.