Stats: Coutinho v Willian - Was Liverpool man rightly overlooked by Brazil?

Should Brazil call on Coutinho or Willian for the World Cup next summer?

Brazil's squad for their latest set of friendly matches was announced yesterday, with Manchester City's Fernandinho earning a call-up.

Missing out however was Liverpool's dynamic youngster Coutinho, despite his impressive recent form. Competition for places is intense in attacking positions, and a player who only recently earned a recall of his own stands in his way.

Chelsea's Willian is the player Coutinho may just have to usurp if he is to make his way to the World Cup.

With that in mind we have taken a look at how the two attackers compare, to see if Willian was the obvious choice or not for Luiz Scolari.

Coutinho has played in the Premier League six months longer than Willian, but the Chelsea man at 25 is four years senior to the Liverpool attacker.

Here's how they compare in key areas:

Goals and Shot accuracy

PlayerTeamGoalsShots per game Shots on target %AppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool 2 3.45 28.99 20 1,515
Willian Chelsea 2 1.53 38.46 17 1,145

Both players have scored the same number of Premier League goals, Coutinho in slightly more appearance, but he is far more wasteful than his rival. He averages more than twice the number of shots per game, but has no extra output to show for it, also firing a lower percentage of his efforts on target. Certainly an area of his game he can improve.

Assists and Key Passes

PlayerTeam AssistKey Passes per gameKey Passes Open Play per gameAppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool 4 1.85 1.50 20 1,515
Willian Chelsea 1 2.18 1.71 17 1,145

Despite a recent surge in form from Willian, Coutinho eclipses him in terms of assists. The Liverpool man make less key passes on average per game, yet many of Willian's are from set pieces. Liverpool's superior strike force compared to Chelsea's often wayward forwards certainly help the Liverpool man out in this department.

Work rate

PlayerTeamTackles won per gameInterceptions won per gameEffective Clearances per gameAppsMins
Willian Chelsea 1.71 0.76 0.35 17 1,145
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool 1.45 0.55 0.25 20 1,515

While not an essential area for either attacker, this helps build a picture of each of their effectiveness to their sides. Willian edges all three departments. Jose Mourinho is demanding of his attackers in terms of tracking back, and Willian's superior contribution in this department was one of the key reasons Juan Mata was allowed to leave.

Dribbling, Crossing, Pass Completion

PlayerTeamSuccessful dribbles per gameAccurate crosses %Accurate passes %Successful passes final third per gameAppsMins
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool 2.10 23.21 78.69 15.45 20 1,515
Willian Chelsea 1.47 28.40 84.78 12.82 17 1,145

An even balance here, Coutinho is the better performer in terms of dribbling and completing passes in the final third of the pitch, illustrating the two are not exclusive. Willian has been the better crosses and completes a higher percentage of his passes, showing the Liverpool man does not have it all his own way.


Both players are huge assets to their respective teams, and worthy of consideration for Brazil's World Cup squad. Luiz Scolari would be remiss to not call up Coutinho at some stage in a friendly match ahead of the tournament to show what he can do.

The advantage Willian has is his experience, a seasoned Champions League performer with Shakhtar, where he has played alongside many of the Brazil squad, as well as Luiz, Oscar and Ramires at Chelsea. Coutinho can only hope his connection with Lucas Leiva may just enable his Liverpool teammate to put in a good word for him.

image: © Dean Jones

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