Philippe Coutinho thrives for Brazil at U20 WCup
Philippe Coutinho has fully embraced his role as Brazil’s leader
at the Under-20 World Cup, taking advantage of his club experience
to keep his team on track for a fifth world title.
The Inter Milan midfielder is a veteran in the Brazilian squad,
and his goals and assists have proved key so far. He scored three
goals and set up two others in three matches, helping Brazil easily
advance to the tournament’s knockout stage.
The 19-year-old Coutinho is the only player in this Brazilian
squad who has already moved to a European club.
”I’m the only one already playing at a top club in Europe and
that helps in some ways, of course,” Coutinho said. ”I’m already
used to some situations that maybe the other guys are experiencing
for the first time now in an important competition.”
Coutinho was expected to share some of the responsibility in
Colombia with other promising stars such as Neymar and Lucas, but
the duo was released from the squad because they played with the
senior team in the Copa America in Argentina.
”Coutinho is a great player, he wouldn’t be with a team like
Inter if he wasn’t,” defender Galhardo said. ”He has been showing
how well he can play and I’m sure he will still help us a lot in
Despite knowing that the rest of the team may be looking up to
him, Coutinho is careful not to put too much pressure on
”Everyone’s goal is the same, which is to play well and help
Brazil reach the final and win the title,” he said. ”Now we are
all playing for Brazil and we all have to perform well.”
He is doing his part.
Coutinho scored two goals in Brazil’s 4-0 routing of Panama on
Thursday, a victory that guaranteed the four-time champions a berth
in the last 16.
His second goal was a beauty, controlling the ball with his
thigh inside the area and clearing a defender with a nifty move
before firing a well-placed shot into the far corner.
The playmaker had already scored in the 3-0 victory against
Austria last Monday, when he also set up two goals, one of them
with a neat back-heel pass to one of his teammates.
”It’s important to be playing up to the expectations,”
Coutinho said. ”It’s important to be helping my team win and reach
all of its goals here in Colombia.”
He is the tournament’s leading scorer for now, along with
Egypt’s Mohamed Ibrahim and Colombia’s Luis Muriel.
The playmaker was in the Brazilian squad that was eliminated in
the first stage of the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria in 2009, and
earlier this year he missed the Under-20 South American
championship in Peru because of an injury. Brazil won that
tournament with Neymar and Lucas to secure a berth in the 2012
Coutinho began playing with Brazilian club Vasco da Gama and
quickly attracted the attention of international scouts. Inter
Milan reached a deal to sign him as a 16-year-old even before he
turned professional. He stayed with Vasco to gain experience until
turning 18 and then moved to Italy.
It didn’t take long for him to make an impression at Inter
Milan, and he soon began playing regularly with the main team,
including key matches in the Italian league and the Champions
Coutinho played a friendly with the senior national team in
2010, when Brazil defeated Iran 3-0 in Abu Dhabi.
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