Injury to Gabriel Jesus is a window of opportunity for Liverpool’s Firmino to show that he is the perfect fit for Tite’s Brazil in the upcoming qualifiers
Roberto Firmino has been a regular at Liverpool since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp in October 2015. The Brazilian is considered a key figure at the club, but has been desperately waiting for an opportunity to show Brazil coach Tite, what he is made of. Is the injury to Gabriel Jesus the golden chance he has been waiting for?
Jurgen Klopp has found in Roberto Firmino the modern attacker who fits his dynamic system. The German tactician has reinvented the 25-year old in the false-nine role, which seems to be his best position. Despite some ups and downs throughout a year-and-a-half at Liverpool, Klopp has always maintained faith in Firmino even when, at some points, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge had a higher scoring ratio.
In other words, the Merseyside boss values Roberto’s qualities even when he doesn’t score. As a matter of fact, the young attacker excels at pressing high, regaining possession in the final third, receiving the ball with his back turned and setting up his teammates with layoffs.
The forward is constantly dropping deep or drifting wide, which makes him harder to mark – and consequently makes Liverpool’s attacking trio more unpredictable, as Firmino, Coutinho and Mané make constant runs or swap positions throughout the flow of the game.
Hence, the former Hoffenheim star could merge well into Brazil’s national team. Just like Liverpool, Brazil uses a 4-3-3 system with Coutinho and Neymar as wide playmakers, roaming around a central attacker with the freedom to drop deep.
Firmino is, in theory, an ideal replacement for Gabriel Jesus, as he already has great chemistry with Anfield teammate Coutinho and is used to occupying the same position at club-level. And let’s be honest, Neymar will make life easier for anyone. With Uruguay and Paraguay being next on the schedule, Brazil’s striker will have to deal with aggressive marking and physical contact. One would think that Roberto is used to these types of more physical games, having plied his tried in between Germany and England for the past few years.
In 2014, Roberto Firmino was chosen as the second best player in the German league – right behind Borussia Dortmund ace Marco Reus. Yet, he was still dropped from the World Cup squad as Felipe Scolari had other options. Firmino has been waiting for his time to come at the Seleção, and now that the team is finally starting to find a style of play and retrieve its identity, the moment could be ideal for him to step up to the stage and grab the spotlight.
The 2014 World Cup has shown how crucial it is for Brazil to have a reliable option for the nine role. With Gabriel Jesus being the only suitable striker, the team would be facing the risk of failing to find a plan B if he gets suspended or injured ahead of a vital knockout game.
Therefore, it is extremely important to have a solid back-up, ready to come on and help the team maintaining the same level. Are Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino the two strikers to guide the 5-time World Champions to the 6th star, or should Adenor Bacchi invest in other exciting options such as Tiquinho Soares and Willian José?