Roberto Firmino is Liverpool’s silent assassin as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane get all the attention… but the unselfish Brazilian makes Jurgen Klopp’s side tick

Sports Jun 01, 2019 11:03

Compared to Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino does not score as many goals. He has contributed 16 this season compared to 26 apiece by the other two.

So it is only natural that Salah and Mane get the majority of attention while the 27-year-old centre forward has a habit of going unnoticed.

Yet Firmino brings other qualities to the table. He may be seen as Liverpool’s Ringo Starr but just like the Beatles, Jurgen Klopp’s side would look wrong without him.

Roberto Firmino is Liverpool’s silent assassin as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane get all the attention… but the unselfish Brazilian makes Jurgen Klopp’s side tick

Roberto Firmino is fit for the Champions League final and that is a huge boost for Liverpool

That was what Sportsmail’s Jamie Redknapp summarised in his player-by-player guide for Saturday night’s Champions League final, noting the importance of Firmino to Liverpool’s style of play. 

Klopp concurs. Back in 2017, when asked about the Brazilian’s lack of goals, he responded: ‘He is the best player without scoring with how well he reads the game for the benefit of others.’

What the Liverpool manager meant by that was the diagonal runs he makes into spaces tempts defenders into following him, freeing up room for his fellow forwards to exploit.

As the player often found furthest up the pitch, his energy sets the tone for the high press. Always on the front foot, Firmino battles in a bid to win the ball back.

By doing that dirty work, it is little wonder then that he ranked 16th for tackles made by forwards in the Premier League last season.

Roberto Firmino is Liverpool’s silent assassin as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane get all the attention… but the unselfish Brazilian makes Jurgen Klopp’s side tick

The Brazilian is Liverpool's Ringo Starr, allowing Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to flourish

 

Mane is also among the top tacklers because that is the way Liverpool’s players are programmed.

Against Tottenham tonight, Klopp will trust the system that has seen his side reach back-to-back Champions League finals. They will play 4-3-3 and press high up the pitch.

On the right wing, Salah will hunt down defenders whenever they have the ball. The same goes for Mane on the left. When they win it back, they will attack at speed.

That was what they did to great effect against Barcelona in their semi-final second-leg comeback, and that is what we can expect again on Saturday night.

The midfield - apart from Fabinho, who tends to sit back and shield the defence - will push forward to press and suffocate Tottenham. As will the full backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

It was Alexander-Arnold’s tackle on Jordi Alba in the opposition half that saw Liverpool take a 2-0 lead over Barca, putting them halfway towards the Miracle of Anfield.

Roberto Firmino is Liverpool’s silent assassin as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane get all the attention… but the unselfish Brazilian makes Jurgen Klopp’s side tick

While Firmino does not have the prowess of Europe's top strikers, he fits the system perfectly

 

Whether or not Mauricio Pochettino’s side can cope with Klopp’s counter-press could be what decides tonight’s tie. The man at the front of that system will be Firmino.

The Brazil forward was forced to sit out that game against Barcelona three weeks ago, but he is set to return against Tottenham.

Last season was all about Salah, who scored 44 goals in 52 games. This season has been more about Mane, who has stepped up and enjoyed his greatest campaign in England.

Firmino, meanwhile, has quietly and consistently gone about his business in between.

He is no Harry Kane. Nor is he a Sergio Aguero, or a Romelu Lukaku, or a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. What he is, however, is a striker suited perfectly to Klopp’s style of play. 

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7093461/Roberto-Firmino-Liverpools-silent-assassin-Brazilian-makes-tick.html

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