Analyising Phillipe Countinho's devastating display for Liverpool against Hull City
For the past two seasons, Liverpool have had a certain reliance upon their Brazilian magician Phillipe Coutinho. Now, for seemingly the first time since Coutinho has become a key man, he has quality players around him to match, and Saturday’s victory over Hull City was the perfect demonstration of how playing alongside players of similar quality have helped to push his performances to the next level.
Playing on his usual left side of attack, Coutinho had the first chance of the game when he should have scored from six yards out but misjudged the pass and missed making a strong contact with the ball. That was to be the only blot on a superb performance from the 24-year-old.
Minutes later, he set up Adam Lallana to open the scoring with a deft pass to give the England international the best opportunity to put the Reds in front, with his calm and composed style in the box evident. It was to be one of four goal-scoring opportunities that Coutinho would create across the 90 minutes, a remarkable stat.
The truly magical moment of Coutinho’s performance came in the 52nd minute as a curling strike from distance secured his third goal in six appearances this term. His finish, described by Jurgen Klopp as “perfect” was of vital performance as it came less than a minute after the Tigers had pulled a goal back to give themselves a fighting chance of salvaging something from the game despite the Red’s numerical advantage.
It capped off a superb attacking display which saw the former Inter Milan attacker put a dangerous cross into the box and beat his man on two occasions as he gave Ahmed Elmohamady a torrid first half hour before he saw red for handball. Coutinho didn’t give the Tigers a moments peace and it was clear to see that his pace and trickery was hard for a tiring backline to handle as the game wore on.
With an 85% pass completion ratio and an impressive seven ball recoveries, Coutinho showed that he can make a valuable all round contribution too. With two interceptions on top of that, he played a vital role in preventing Hull from launching quick counter attacks as they did to devastating effect up against Leicester City on the opening day.
The pass combinations to the Brazilian also reflect the role that he played in linking the Liverpool attack with midfield, with 43% of his passes received coming from the trio of midfielders.
Coutinho showed against Hull City just how far his game has come, no longer just an inconsistent attacking threat, but as a creater, converter, and all-round player. Whilst his impressive finishing for Liverpool’s third goal will be the standout moment that most will remember from the game, there was far more to his performance than that as he becomes one of a select group of star men in Jurgen Klopp’s team.
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