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Football

26th Jan 2018

Philippe Coutinho made his Barcelona debut and it got the expected reaction

Luis Suarez even apologised to him after the game

Darragh Murphy

It will surprise few to see how seamlessly Philippe Coutinho has adapted to life at his new club.

Coutinho seemingly requires no feeling out process whatsoever, judging by his debut for Barcelona which came on Thursday night.

The former Liverpool midfielder came on a substitute for the final 25 minutes of Barcelona’s 2-0 victory over Espanyol in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final and it’s safe to say that he impressed.

With a 2-1 aggregate advantage over Espanyol, the club at which Coutinho scored five goals in 16 appearances during a 2012 loan spell, Barca coasted towards victory and a place in the semi-finals.

And while the Brazilian playmaker failed to get on the scoresheet in his cameo appearance at the Camp Nou, he set up a couple of chances for his new teammates, one of which prompted an apologetic promise from Luis Suarez to be more clinical in front of goal.

Coutinho fed Suarez after some wonderful build-up play but a tremendous double save kept the score at 2-0 and the Uruguayan, who knows Coutinho very well after their time together at Liverpool, assured the world’s second most expensive signing that he’d put away chances like that in future.

Having taken up his position on the left hand side of Barca’s midfield, Coutinho looked like an absolute natural and needed no settling in as he quickly went about showing off the kind of ability that earned him his £142 million move earlier this month.

“It has been a special day because these were my first minutes with this club,” Coutinho said of his first appearance.

“It was a great night. I am very happy and excited, because of how the fans welcomed me.

“I was a little nervous and anxious because of how big a club this is, but the way everyone welcomed me helped me to relax.”

Barca host Alaves in La Liga on Sunday night and Coutinho could well make his first full appearance for the Catalan giants then, having recovered from a thigh strain which has kept him out of action for the past three weeks.

One thing’s for certain, he seems to be a natural Barcelona player judging by the reviews of his performance on Thursday.