Coutinho admits to struggling at Barcelona open-minded about future

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  • 14/03/2019
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Sadio Mane scored a brilliant brace as the Reds and Barcelona advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals.
Craig Burley refuses to name Barcelona Champions League favourites after their big win over Lyon, due to their defensive inconsistency.
Despite another routine win for Barcelona in La Liga, questions remain over Philippe Coutinho who underwhelmed again for the Spanish giants.
Barcelona went behind early to Rayo Vallecano, but responded with three, including Lionel Messi’s goal in his 800th career game.

Philippe Coutinho said he has struggled for form during the last few months after scoring for the first time in 10 games as Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday in the Champions League.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Coutinho rolled home from inside the area after good work from Luis Suarez to double Barca’s lead. It was his first goal since he scored twice in the Copa del Rey win against Sevilla on Jan. 30.

Coutinho’s barren run saw him jeered by some supporters during Saturday’s win against Rayo Vallecano but he was given a more positive reception when he was replaced by Ousmane Dembele in the second half against Lyon.

“In the last few weeks, months even, I’ve not been playing well,” Coutinho told Movistar after helping the Catalan side reach the Champions League quarterfinals for a 12th consecutive season. “But I’ve never stopped trying to improve and learn. I came to Barcelona to give my best and that’s what I try to do every day.”

Coutinho, who joined from Liverpool for €160 million last January, has been linked with a return to England after seeing his place in Barca’s side taken by Dembele.

The Brazil international brushed off talk of a summer exit for now and said his focus is on Sunday’s game against Real Betis as Barca continue to compete on three fronts.

“I live for the moment,” he added. “Now it’s about the next game.

“You never know what the future holds. I am [just] happy with my performance today.”

Messi hails Ronaldo’s ‘magical’ night for Juventus 

Ernesto Valverde also acknowledged Coutinho has struggled at times this season and the Barca coach hopes Wednesday’s goal will provide a timely boost heading into the run-in.

“It was an important game for Coutinho and he did really well,” Valverde said in a news conference. “The important thing was for him grow in confidence.

“There have been times this season when he’s not played so well, but at certain moments he has been playing well. We’re happy for him.”

Lyon briefly threatened to come back in the second half when Lucas Tousart made it 2-1 but, inspired by Messi, Barca managed to pull away as they booked their place in the last eight.

Messi scored the third  and then set up Gerard Pique and substitute Dembele, who didn’t start because of a slight hamstring issue, to complete the rout.

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