Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick has confirmed that Philippe Coutinho will start against Hoffenheim this weekend, saying it will give the Brazilian a chance “to show his quality” in the absence of injured top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
Coutinho has made 20 Bundesliga appearances for the defending champions this season since joining on loan from Barcelona last summer, starting 13 times.
Now, however, the knee injury Lewandowski sustained against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League has opened the door for others to stake their claim – and Flick is hoping Coutinho will do just that.
“Philippe will definitely start,” the Bayern boss said at his pre-game media briefing ahead of Saturday’s visit to Hoffenheim. “The game will give him the chance to integrate himself into the team. He’s always very good in training. I hope the dam breaks and he shows the quality he’s got.”
It remains to be seen how Bayern will begin against Hoffenheim: Müller, Serge Gnabry and youngster Joshua Zirkzee are all candidates to take Lewandowski’s place at the sharp end of Flick’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, but the 55-year-old indicated the team’s approach would not change a great deal.
Watch: How Coutinho gives Bayern the X-factor
“Coutinho’s a different kind of player [to Lewandowski and Gnabry]. We’ll need to make sure we find the player in the best position up front during the game so that we can turn a good scoring chance into a great one. I’ll need to take a bit of a risk in the final third.”
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