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Page 63 stories Urge to create driving Coutinho on Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho hopes to set up more goals as he builds a better understanding with…

Page 63 stories

Urge to create driving Coutinho on

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho hopes to set up more goals as he builds a better understanding with newcomers Christian Benteke, Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings.

The Brazil international has provided just two assists in 11 Premier League appearances so far term, eight behind Arsenal star Mesut Ozil, but he is confident Liverpool’s hard work on the training ground will eventually pay off.

“I have to adapt to our new attackers, but it’s not only me who must do this,” Coutinho told the official Liverpool magazine. “When you get new players, especially strikers, it is the job of all of the team to give them the service they need.

“I have to learn whether it is right to play a fast ball or a pass along the ground, depending on who I am playing the ball to. The training sessions are very, very important for this adaptation process to happen. We work on this every day in training and the sessions are very intense.

“If we’re not doing it right, or something isn’t working, we do it again and again until we get it right. The more you train with your team-mates, the more you learn about each other and this is important for the team to do well.”

Coutinho has flourished in front of goal since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool’s new manager, scoring three times in four Premier League outings, and he is thoroughly enjoying the German’s approach.

“He asks for us to play with as much freedom as possible when we have the ball, but when we lose it we are asked to recover it as quickly as possible,” he added.

Pique Barcelona, Real would win Premier League at first

Gerard Pique does not think Barcelona or Real Madrid would have any chance of winning the Premier League in their first season if they were to play in England’s top flight.

The Barca defender, 28, feels the level of adjustment would be too great for La Liga’s big two, even though they have been dominant on the European stage in recent years.

Madrid won the Champions League in 2014 and Barcelona are the holders of the continent’s elite club competition, but Pique, who played for Manchester United from 2004 to 2008, does not think the Spanish heavyweights could achieve immediate success if they played in England.

“I think that if Barcelona or Real Madrid goes to the Premier League then the first year of playing there, there is no chance of winning it,” the Spain international told the Daily Telegraph.

“Yes, I think so, because if you go to Stoke, or other types of teams, then it will be really tough. It is a debate – we could spend hours on it.

“If Manchester United or Chelsea go to Spain then I say the same. No chance to win the league.”

Spain host England in Alicante on Friday in an international friendly match ahead of Euro 2016 that will bring Pique into direct competition against his former United team-mate Wayne Rooney.

The experienced striker, captain for club and country, has come in for criticism for his performances this season, but the Barca star insisted the 30-year-old would still make the cut in his dream team of world stars.

Pique continued: “I have Wayne Rooney because he is one of the best English players in history.

“He needs to win an important title with England. It will be difficult, but you never know. Recently he became England’s all-time record goal-scorer – a very important record. And he is not old – just 30.

“He is not as quick as he was, maybe, but he will always score goals – he scored a hat-trick against [Club] Brugge, he scored against CSKA Moscow. He has kept scoring. It is true he is getting older, we all have to accept that, but he has the ability to play for a long time. And when you don’t score sometimes it is not because of you. Sometimes it is maybe the team is not creating chances for you.”

Isco withdraws from Spain squad

Isco has withdrawn from the Spain squad due to a “strained muscle”, it has been confirmed.

The Real Madrid attacking midfielder was included in Vicente del Bosque’s group for the friendlies against England and Belgium this month.

However, after experiencing discomfort and failing to complete training with the rest of the squad he has opted to return to his club.

“[Isco] carried out an individual training session, separate from the team, due to the discomfort felt upon arriving to the practice,” a statement said.

“After undergoing several medical tests and after analysing the results, and sharing them with his club, Isco has left the national team meet-up.”

Isco will now focus on recovering in time to feature in Madrid’s Clasico meeting with Barcelona on November 21.

Sneijder: Van Persie not finished

Netherlands playmaker Wesley Sneijder believes Robin van Persie still has a role to play with the national team and has urged the Fenerbahce striker to respond after being dropped.

National team coach Danny Blind opted to leave Van Persie out of his squad for the international friendlies against Wales and Germany this month, claiming the forward is not fit enough to compete at the highest level.

However, Sneijder feels the former Manchester United and Arsenal man still has the potential to be a key figure and has advised the 32-year-old to prove Blind wrong.

“Van Persie should be part of the team if he is fully match fit,” Sneijder told Algemeen Dagblad.

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