Brazil 'impact sub' Coutinho set to start

Philippe Coutinho during Brazil's training session in Natal, ahead of their qualifier against Bolivia tonight.
Philippe Coutinho during Brazil's training session in Natal, ahead of their qualifier against Bolivia tonight.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

NATAL (Brazil) • Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is poised to replace Chelsea's Willian in Brazil's starting line-up for their World Cup qualifier against Bolivia today.

He was used as a substitute in Brazil's victories over Ecuador and Colombia in last month's qualifiers, making an impact on both occasions after replacing Willian.

During Brazil's training session on Tuesday, Coutinho featured in coach Tite's starting line-up, just behind forwards Neymar and Gabriel Jesus. The 24-year-old has been in fine form for Liverpool this season, racking up three goals and two assists in seven Premier League appearances.

Tite's first XI on Tuesday also included Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho, Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis and Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Giuliano.

Fernando and Filipe Luis are expected to replace injured Real Madrid pair Casemiro and Marcelo today, while Giuliano is likely to start in place of the suspended Paulinho.

Brazil are currently second in the 10-team South American qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with four going through and the fifth facing a play-off.

Chile face a daunting trip to Ecuador today, as they attempt to get their faltering campaign back on track at a venue where they have never won. After eight rounds of the continent's marathon qualifying campaign, the two-time Copa America champions are languishing in seventh place, two points adrift of Ecuador in fifth.

Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has recalled playmaker Jorge Valdivia following a 10-month exile while stars Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Bravo are all expected to start at Quito's Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa, which is more than 2,700m above sea level.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil 'impact sub' Coutinho set to start'. Print Edition | Subscribe