Philippe Coutinho is expected to make his long-awaited return from injury for Barcelona against Bayern Munich in the Catalan giants’ opening game of the 2021-22 Champions League on September 14.
The Brazilian has not played at all in 2021 after undergoing knee surgery in January. The 29-year-old then underwent another operation in June back in Brazil on a meniscal cyst in his left knee.
Coutinho has been back in training and will get minutes against Bayern, according to Javier Miguel at Diario AS. Coach Ronald Koeman is willing to trust the former Liverpool star and has told president Joan Laporta he can “Get the Brazilian back in form.”
Koeman had hoped to be able to give Coutinho minutes in Saturday’s La Liga clash against Sevilla. However, the game has been postponed due to a clash with South America World Cup qualifying fixtures.
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Koeman Talks Coutinho
The Barcelona boss has spoken about Coutinho in an interview with Diario Sport ahead of the Bayern clash. The Dutchman has made it clear he is confident that Coutinho can enjoy a successful career at the club despite struggling for form and fitness since his arrival in January 2019.
“Coutinho? Of course. I am still 100% convinced he’s a player who can succeed at Barça. I like him a lot,” he said. “The last injury was tough for him and he has to recover well both physically and mentally to be stronger than ever.”
The Barcelona forward has opened up on his injury difficulties on social media. Coutinho has admitted he went through “difficult days with many uncertain moments” but also declared himself now “ready for battle.”
Playing against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will certainly be a huge test for Coutinho. The Bavarian giants hammered Barca 8-2 the last time the two sides met in August 2020 in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Of course, Coutinho was playing for Bayern that day after joining on a season-long loan. The Brazilian even came off the bench and scored twice late on to complete Barcelona’s humiliation.
Coutinho On Target In Training Match
Coutinho has also been on target in the build-up to Barca’s Champions League opener. The Catalan giants played a training match against fourth tier side AE Prat on Wednesday at the Ciutat Esportiva.
Koeman, who is still without a host of internationals, fielded a team consisting of senior and reserve team players and saw his men run out 2-1 winners. Coutinho and reserve left-back Alejandro Balde were both on target.
Journalist Toni Juanmarti shared footage of Coutinho’s goal on social media.
New signing Luuk de Jong and fit-again Oscar Mingueza also featured and gained some valuable playing time. Barca confirmed the match was to “keep the players in the right rhythm” after seeing Saturday’s trip to Sevilla postponed.
Bayern Munich will not have the luxury of a spare weekend ahead of the match. Julian Nagelsmann’s side play at RB Leipzig on Saturday and will then turn their attentions to the clash at the Camp Nou.
Nagelsmann has already admitted he’s excited about the game, as reported by Marca. “We are looking forward to facing Barcelona next week,” he said. “We will play in a wonderful city and at a great stadium. Two teams with an incredible tradition and great fans will face each other.”