Ernesto Valverde has finally made it clear that he is not going to make any radical change in order to accommodate the new signing Philippe Coutinho.
Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele have been made clear to the fact that they need to adapt to Barcelona’s existing tactics as the Blaugrana boss is not planning to make any radical changes to accommodate the duo. Dembele endured a frustrating start to his Barcelona career. In just his second start for the club, against Getafe on Sept 16, he tore his hamstring.
What followed was more than three months of recovery work until he was finally able to make his return off the bench last week against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey last-16 first leg. Coutinho, who joined Barcelona last week faces a minor thigh problem and has to wait for some more time to make his Barca debut.
Barcelona is off to a flying start this season as they are yet to lose in any of the games they have featured in since their Supercopa De Espana loss to Real Madrid in August. Valverde has at times used the 4-4-2 formation with a flat four in midfield behind Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, with Dembele and Coutinho both seems to be more suited to a 4-3-3 formation.
Blaugrana boss gave some hints that how he sees Coutinho and Dembele fitting in the squad, ahead of the second leg of his side’s last 16 Copa Del Rey tie with Celta Vigo. Valverde said: “Coutinho can’t play yet, Dembele can play on both sides, but regardless of small changes things are going to be very similar. Coutinho is a player we think can help us. Each player is different and brings something new. He scores, he can shoot.
Philippe Coutinho on Luis Suarez: "I am very happy to play again with him. He wrote me a lot to convince me and even saw a house for me. He's a close friend I have. We had a really good time and almost won the Premier League!" pic.twitter.com/CIdm1eRbLy
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) January 9, 2018
He can play inside or outside and we hope he can contribute and help us to be better. It’s a coach’s job to speak about his team. We’re competitive, in three competitions, at the greatest club in the world. We’re always trying to win and make our fans happy. We think our players are the best, that’s the way it is.”
Barcelona was held to a 1-1 draw at Baladios in their first leg R-16 tie with Celta Vigo, while Celta Vigo drew 2-2 at the Nou Camp in La Liga earlier this season. Valverde is surely expecting another tricky encounter from Juan Carlos Unzue, who returns with his side at the Camp Nou on Thursday.
Valverde said: “I haven’t won it [the Copa del Rey] and from an individual standpoint I want to win the Copa del Rey, although the players have. I played a final against Barcelona and lost. Tomorrow we want to go out and win the game. It’s a title we are playing for and we are playing in the Copa del Rey against Celta and it’s extremely important.”
Coutinho has provided 35 assists in the Premier League, more than any other Brazilian player in the competition history. [opta] pic.twitter.com/ihS05BJ35k
— CE Stats (@CEStats) January 8, 2018
Speaking about Celta forward Iago Aspas, Valverde said: “He is an extraordinary player, he doesn’t just score against us, he scores against everybody. He has the facility to play in space, can play inside or on the wing. He’s a strong character and I like him a lot as a player. He’s in good form right now.”
I personally feel that Coutinho won’t face any significant problem in adjusting with Barcelona’s current tactics. He can surely feature in a variety of positions and can adapt well to the squad.