The left foot on the ground, the ball on the right, the right foot in the air. A few wobbles, a body shuffle, then the ball-to-left movement. Again and again Philippe Coutinho rehearsed the process, while he waited at the Munich Torschussübung before the kick-off of the match between SC Paderborn and Bayern to be on the line.
In the 40th minute, the Brazilian then showed for which scenes he worked so meticulously on the movement. In the penalty area a rebound landed at his feet. Then it started: The left foot on the ground, the right in the air, the fast movement to the left, completion. Forged, corner for Bavaria.
Coutinho, this is a man for special moments, full of elegance, enthusiasm and creativity. In the 3: 2 (1: 0) victory of the Munich at the bottom of the table he did not succeed, as well as with his deposit just before the break. And yet, especially in the first half, he showed what he is capable of. At what level he can raise the Bayern, as soon as he retrieves his full performance.
"Almost perfect on the ball"
"I do not know if it feels better how he treats the ball, how it moves," sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said regarding the first half. "He is almost perfect on the ball," added goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. And coach Niko Kovac said: "That looks like dancing with the ball. He knows exactly what he has to do with the ball, when, where, when."
It is this speed of action and thought combined with his great technical skills that make Coutinho so strong. He moves very well between the defensive lines, is often playable and then takes little time for a subsequent action.
Friso Gentsch / DPA
Philippe Coutinho scored the second goal of the season in Paderborn
As in the seventh minute in Paderborn. Coutinho hit the ball as Newbie picked up a corner. The goalkeeper's throw-off landed at the Brazilian, who quickly made a perfect pass through the interface, right into the run of Serge Gnabry. The right-winger broke and only because Robert Lewandowski shot close to the empty goal, the counter-attack made possible by Coutinho did not end with a hit. The fact that Coutinho is involved so aggressively is also due to the system Kovac plays with him.
When the spectacular lending business was over, there was a lot of discussion about how well the FC Barcelona player would fit in with the Munich team. At this time, the record champion usually played with two offensive midfielders. But now Coutinho runs there alone, as a clear tens, secured by two six. Against Paderborn this was once again Joshua Kimmich, in the first half together with Thiago, in the second half with Javi Martínez.
This is how Coutinho can live offensively. If he got the ball against Paderborn, usually followed by a clever pass, sometimes a dribble, even he is barely to be separated from the ball. He did not even show the third option, his outstanding shot.
When Coutinho dodged the left wing once, Bayern took the lead. He got the ball, chipped it sentimental on the incoming Gnabry, who met from an acute angle – also because Paderborn goalkeeper Jannik Huth had misjudged.
At the same time, Coutinho quickly relented to be playable again in the penalty area. Similar to his own goal: Joshua Kimmich chipped the ball into the box, this time put Gnabry across, Coutinho pushed. An original, a goal, as it was a week ago against Cologne.
Coutinho is not fit enough yet
But there were times when Coutinho plunged, and the score suffered. Then there is a lack of chances to score. It's obvious that Coutinho needs more time and more fitness. Late in the second half, he lumbered here and there rather than aggressively following the ball.
With diminishing power, his actions became less concentrated. In injury time, he went to the level of the center line in the dribble and lost the ball directly. When counterattack Paderborn reached into the box, took out a corner and got so again the chance to 3: 3. By bad chance exploitation and inattention in the defensive Bayern had the clearly inferior opponent come back into play and scored two goals.
On Tuesday the record champion can not afford such phases. Then the Bayern play at Tottenham Hotspur (21 clock live ticker DER SPIEGEL). Also Coutinho must then show that he can shine in the Munich jersey not only against the bottom of the Bundesliga, but also against a -Champions League finalists.
Sport director Salihamidzic still sees room for improvement over the coming weeks. "Then he gets fitter and better." Especially with regard to the first half in Paderborn sounds like a threat.