Valverde will learn that Coutinho isn’t a naturally right sided player

Sunday’s clash with Alaves was far more challenging for Barcelona than it should have been, and it quickly became clear that Philippe Coutinho isn’t a naturally right sided player.

The hosts lacked cohesion in the first half and only had Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi to thank for their win.

This is an issue that Ernesto Valverde will have to identify sooner rather than later.

Of course a player will always fight against nerves on his first start at the Camp Nou, however, he was clearly in an uncomfortable position.


There is work to be done with regards to fitting him into the team, especially with Andres Iniesta owning the left sided midfield position.

Since Abelardo Fernandez took control of the team, Alaves have been a much more efficient unit, the morale of the players has risen and they look capable of challenging any team in the division.

John Guidetti opened the scoring and has proven to be an astute acquisition.

He is a focal point in attack that will give Alaves options throughout the course of the second half of the campaign.

Paulinho returned to the starting line-up after two matches on the bench, and Valverde had hoped the Brazilian would be able to fill in as a result of Sergio Busquets’ absence alongside Ivan Rakitic.

However the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder never looked comfortable.

The visitors struggled to retain possession in midfield, although Wakaso Mubarak played very well indeed, the Ghanaian known to cut out loose balls and disrupt an opponent’s rhythm.

He plays on the edge and is physical, and he could have been shown a red card on Sunday, although the referee appeared to miss his stamp on Coutinho.

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