Ruiz: Coutinho is on the same level as Neymar
Neymar’s goal, rainbow flick and tears might have stolen the attention on Friday, but Philippe Coutinho was again Brazil’s driving force.
Philippe Coutinho is on the same level as Brazil team-mate Neymar, according to Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz.
Neymar is Brazil’s star attraction at the World Cup and got on the scoresheet to round off Friday’s dramatic 2-0 win against Los Ticos in Group E.
But, as was the case in the opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland, it was Coutinho who broke the deadlock and inspired most of the Selecao’s best work.
“I think they have a lot of big quality, both players,” Ruiz said.
“Coutinho and Neymar, when they both do a good game it is a big difference for Brazil.
“I think they have the same quality.”
Costa Rica’s hopes of repeating the heroics of their 2014 run to the quarter-finals are over following two defeats out of two.
Ruiz feels they might have lost to the eventual winners in St Petersburg.
“Brazil have the quality, they have the players and they have the experience,” he said.
“The most important part for them is to qualify and I think they are going to do it.
“From the last 16 the most important things are quality and experience and I think Brazil has that.”
A dogged defensive display forced Brazil to wait until the 91st minute for Coutinho to find the breakthrough, although Costa Rica crafted a few chances of their own – leaving Ruiz to wonder what might have been.
“In these kind of games you will not have many chances – you might have two or three chances, which we clearly did create and it’s a pity we didn’t score,” he added.
“I think we did good. We know the quality of the players of Brazil, especially on the left side with Neymar and Coutinho
“We closed them very well. On the right-hand side we had a good defensive job against Willian that provoked them to change him at half-time.
“They brought on Douglas Costa and I also think we did a great job with him. They are very good players but defensively we did a great job. It’s just a pity they scored in injury time.”