Barcelona: Philippe Coutinho finally earns the respect of the Camp Nou

FC Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho (7) celebrates scoring the goal during the UEFA Champions League match between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Camp Nou Stadium on April 16, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mikel Trigueros/ Urbanandsport/ NurPhoto via Getty Images)
FC Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho (7) celebrates scoring the goal during the UEFA Champions League match between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Camp Nou Stadium on April 16, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mikel Trigueros/ Urbanandsport/ NurPhoto via Getty Images) /
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The Camp Nou turned it on for Coutinho in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over United

The Camp Nou is a unique crowd in the sense that its favouritism cannot be easily decrypted. After months of being booed, Philippe Coutinho finally earned positive recognition from the Camp Nou in Barcelona’s 3-0 victory against Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-final.

The second leg of the tie was quite hyped because United had made a comeback in the away leg against Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round. Also, Ole Gunnar Solskjær had created one of the greatest moments in footballing history at the Camp Nou in his playing career.

But Barça were simply too good for the listless Red Devils. The defence was tight and hardly made any mistakes, while the midfield and the attack co-ordinated to put up a formidable fight up front. This vintage performance was rounded off by Philippe Coutinho in befitting fashion.

After Leo Messi’s first-half brace had put Barça in the driver’s seat to progress to the semi-final, Coutinho produced a moment of magic at the hour-mark which stunned the crowd. After Messi’s long-range ball was directly passed to Coutinho by Arthur, the Brazil international let fly.

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The under-fire Brazilian superstar was afforded a lot of space by Paul Pogba, and he set himself before hitting a belter into the top right corner past David de Gea from outside the box. It was a beautiful curler, and was reminiscent of the old Coutinho.

Philippe Coutinho has a knack for scoring amazing goals against United. After a tremendously skillful solo run into the box, Coutinho had chipped De Gea to equalise for Liverpool in the second leg of the Europa League round of 16 in the 2015/16 season.

But his celebration against Manchester United at the Camp Nou may have been a bigger reason why the crowd decided to get behind him when he was taken off for Ousmane Dembélé. Coutinho looked at the crowd, closed his eyes and shut his ears with his fingers.

It was a reply to a crowd whose reception had always been hostile since the beginning of the season. Perhaps it was this audacious celebration which won over the Camp Nou, whose policy of favouritism is still a big mystery.

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Alexis Sánchez of all people drew applause from the Camp Nou after coming on as a late substitute for Manchester United. But nevertheless, this is a big milestone in Coutinho’s Barça career and could be his stepping stone for success.