Walter Mazzarri just missed out on the chance to coach Philippe Coutinho at Inter Milan – and now must come up with a game plan tomorrow to neutralise the magical Brazilian.
Mazzarri rocked up at Inter Milan in May 2013 – less than four months after Coutinho had been sold to Liverpool in what looks like an absolute bargain at £8.5m.
Craig Cathcart had the onerous task of stopping the fleet-footed 24-year-old, who likes to cut in from the left, on Watford’s last visit to Anfield, but Mazzarri could well opt to double up this time round, asking two of Daryl Janmaat, Nordin Amrabat and Juan Zuniga to keep tabs on him.
“Coutinho is a player I like and his characteristics I admire a lot,” said Watford’s head coach. “He left just before I got to Inter. When he was at Inter he was very young. At Liverpool he matured a lot, he made a great step but it was the same concept as before. The forwards play well and better when
they have the team behind them as well. So Coutinho probably found that better than at Inter.”
Watford’s players will not need telling just how good the playmaker is – they see it on Match of the Day every week – but in case they do, Jerome Sinclair can fill them in. He, after all, trained every day with the Brazilian for the past few seasons.
“He’s a top player and hopefully he’s not on his A game come Sunday as it will be tough if he is,” said Sinclair. “He’s a very, very good player.”
It’s not just Coutinho Watford have to worry about – there is his fellow countryman Roberto Firmino to cause sleepless nights, too. However, Watford’s defence is full of confidence after keeping three clean sheets for Heurelho Gomes, Watford’s own Brazilian standing as the last line of defence.
“These are Brazilian problems so we hope they cancel each other out and it means we will not concede a goal,” said Mazzarri. “Gomes is a great goalkeeper so hopefully he will do his best on Sunday and we will see how it goes.”