Pique right behind under-fire Coutinho


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Philippe Coutinho’s Barcelona team-mates remain firmly behind him, despite jeers from Camp Nou fans for the Brazilian.

Coutinho started the 3-1 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday evening but he was the subject of boos from the home support and was taken off 10 minutes before the end by manager Ernesto Valverde.

The Spanish champions fell behind in the first half only for Pique to get their leveller. Lionel Messi scored a penalty shortly after half-time with Luiz Suarez making certain as Barca retained their seven-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Coutinho was a high-profile, big-money signing from Liverpool a year ago but he has only scored three times since October. According to Pique, the fans are entitled to their opinion, but the Barca players are right behind their team-mate.

“We have to accept the reaction of the fans – but from the inside we have to give him our support,” said Pique. “Philippe is having a good season,” Pique told Marca.

“Obviously his cost was very high so that means there are more expectations of his performance level. It is what it is.

“We need him at his best for the end of the season and I’m sure he will be.” Having joined for £142m, Coutinho has been linked with a move back to the Premier League in recent times.

Next up for Barcelona is Lyon in the Champions League last-16 on Wednesday, the sides having drawn the first leg 0-0 in France. Barca are 1.25 to win the second leg, with Lyon 12.00 to win and the draw priced at 6.50.

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