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Niko Kovac backs Philippe Coutinho, suggests that Brazil is overplaying him on international duty

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Niko Kovac worries about all the running Coutinho has had to do for Bayern Munich and particularly for Brazil.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho has impressed Bayern Munich’s head coach Niko Kovac since his arrival on loan from FC Barcelona. Coutinho has become one of the staple’s in the Bayern Munich attack starting all of Bayern’s last eight games. At Bayern’s press conference ahead of their DFB Pokal clash with Bochum, Kovac stated (Bild),

Philippe is a player and also a person who puts himself at the team’s service. Many expect magic from him, which he regularly shows in training. What he’s doing at the moment: he’s working very much for the team. If you look at his distance run, how many kilometers he logs. Not many people see that at all. Many people judge only what he does with the ball up front.

Kovac insisted he is “very satisfied” with the Brazilian so far but worries about the physical toll Coutinho is taking. In addition to playing tons of minutes for Bayern Munich, Coutinho is a mainstay in Brazil’s starting eleven. Most recently, Coutinho came back from international duty with Brazil after playing in two friendlies in Singapore. This comes off a summer where Coutinho and Brazil won the Copa America. Kovac talks about Coutinho’s time with Brazil saying,

Now we have to see how we get him fresh. We perhaps have to talk with the coach of the [Brazilian] national team so that he doesn’t have to play 90 minutes twice next time.

Coutinho has drawn increasing scrutiny for a string of relatively lackluster performances (e.g. Bild+). Coutinho himself said after Bayern’s 2-1 win over Union Berlin, “We are far away from our top level. It’s obvious to all of us that we have to get better.” He may very well have been thinking foremost of himself. Coutinho has two goals and five assists thus far, respectable average distance run, and a strong duels won rate (62%), but he has not yet lived up to expectations.

The next international break is two weeks away, and Brazil is scheduled to play against Argentina and South Korea on November 15 and 19 respectively in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.