Liverpool and Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho talks to FourFourTwo about his dribbling technique and the secret to unlocking defences.
How did you go about developing a sharp football brain?
"I think this comes from the intensity at which we train, but also the work we do with our physical trainer. We do a lot of work on agility which means we become used to making spontaneous movements. The day before a game, and in the warm-up, we will practise short, sharp passes. A combination of the two helps to give me that mental sharpness."
Fast passing is a big part of Liverpool's game - how do the players work on this in training?
"We work really hard on our passing game, because our manager [Jurgen Klopp] really likes this type of playing style. Something we practise a lot is playing three short passes on one side of the pitch and then switching the play with a longer pass. We often repeat that routine. One of the reasons we do this is so the forwards can try to escape their markers and open up spaces on the pitch very quickly."
How important is confidence for creative players such as yourself?
"Confidence is a huge factor out on the pitch. I think this comes through repeated quality training, which gives you belief in your ability and the confidence to transfer your work on the training ground to the pitch. If we only get two or three chances in 90 minutes, you need to be confident you will make the right decision in the final third and put the ball in the back of the net."
How do you develop the ability to stay composed and regularly make the right decisions in those areas?
"I don't think there's a secret - you just have to practise making these decisions a lot. Attacking midfielders need to play with happiness - by that I mean dribbling at pace and making things happen - and if you do that every day then you will tap into the perfect mental state to be creative. On top of this, you need to run a lot to create spaces for you and the other players."
Philippe Coutinho wears the Nike Mercurial Vapor