Brazilian superstar Philippe Coutinho could play a vital role for a Bayern Munich side that is experiencing a transitional phase this season.
Bayern Munich started their 2019/20 campaign in the worst way possible. The German champions lost 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund in the DFL Supercup, which was followed by a disappointing draw to Hertha Berlin at home in the Bundesliga.
However, the Bavarians were quick to respond, notably securing the services of Philippe Coutinho and Michael Cuisance shortly afterwards. The added of Coutinho, in particular, offered a glare of hope for the Bayern Munich attack that looked clueless without the presence of veterans Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
The Brazilian international joined from Barcelona on a season-long loan deal, with an option to buy. He made a quick impact in his debut as well, when he appeared as a substitute against FC Schalke. But, it was his performance against 1.FSV Mainz at home that really caught the eye.
Although Coutinho wasn’t involved in any goal in the 6-1 win, his overall influence was greater as he linked with extremely with the likes of Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski. But how exactly could the Brazilian change the Bayern Munich attack this season?
More fluency in transition
Thiago Alcantara’s withdrawn role in midfield always had an effect on Bayern Munich’s attacking transition, though it was barely visible due to the presence of highly talented individuals. Indeed, the Spaniard has become an out and out deep-lying playmaker within the past couple of years.
His influence, however, has slightly waned, especially under Niko Kovac. Nonetheless, Thiago operating as the number six has taken a toll on Bayern’s transition from midfield to attack. Thomas Muller, to an extent, adopted a central role last season.
But, the German international lacks the composure as well as the skill on the ball that is necessary for any ball-carrier in half-spaces. He is more of a secondary striker, whose clever movements can create spaces for his teammates.
That’s where Coutinho comes into the fray. The ex-Liverpool superstar, as evident with his performances against Schalke and Mainz, is an excellent number ten. He is blessed with immense technical quality while his nimble footwork allows him to nestle through tight spaces or to drift past defenders.
Not only that, but the 27-year-old is also capable of dropping back and picking up balls from midfield. He can then move forward while simultaneously evading the opposition’s press, thus augmenting Bayern’s transition in the final third.
What makes Coutinho such an important player for Bayern Munich is his versatility. Although a left-winger by trade, the Brazilian international is equally effective in the number ten role. He is, in fact, largely expected to operate as the central attacking midfielders during his time at Bavaria.
However, given Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry’s poor injury records, Coutinho’s versatility could be useful. The attacker could provide backup for Coman in the left-wing slot. Alternatively, he can also be deployed on the right, meaning more cover for Gnabry, although new signing Ivan Perisic is the prime alternative at the moment.
Moreover, from a tactical perspective, Coutinho’s style of play could benefit Bayern’s left-sided overload. When operating as a number ten, the Brazilian often loves to drift into a wide-left position and link up with teammates. Bayern already have a strong partnership on the left, between David Alaba and Coman.
Coutinho’s added exposure on that flank could further strengthen the left-sided overload, which makes a lot of sense, especially if Joshua Kimmich continues to feature in a midfield role. His deputy at right-back, Benjamin Pavard, is a defensive fullback, which means he could be utilised in a more defensive role, ultimately giving more balance not only in attack but also in defence.
Therefore, Coutinho is indeed an excellent signing for Bayern Munich. The Barcelona star has the talent as well as the skill to make himself a real success in the Bundesliga. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how the attacker fares, in Brazil’s upcoming game against Colombia on Saturday.