Despite changing his game to accommodate Jurgen Klopp’s tactical plan at Liverpool, Roberto Firmino is still pulling the strings in the club’s title challenge
Roberto Firmino had a difficult start to the season after a radical change in his role for Liverpool. But luckily for the Brazilian, his year ends in the best way possible with impressive high-profile performances against Manchester United and Arsenal, cementing himself as the most underrated player at Anfield.
Firmino had a spectacular 2017/2018 campaign, scoring over 30 goals and providing more than 10 assists, but Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp modifying his tactics for the new season, meant that Roberto would have to re-adapt to an old role he once occupied at Hoffenheim, a couple of years ago.
From a striker who is at the end of Liverpool’s attacks, to a deeper position where he is essentially the attacking midfielder working behind Mohamed Salah in an improvised 4-2-3-1, Bobby is showing once again why he is tactically one of the most important players for the Merseyside club.
Firmino: The master of the No Looks pic.twitter.com/HgJkVsJsSh
— Troll Football (@TrollFootball) December 31, 2018
By making this transition, Bobby has sacrificed a lot of his individual stats for the sake of the team. This season, he has only scored nine goals and provided three assists in all competitions for the Reds so far, but he is simultaneously showing why his importance goes beyond stats.
In the match against Manchester United, José Mourinho’s last in charge, he was a candidate for man of the match without even needing to get on the score-sheet, thanks to his brilliant movement, close control, high pressing and intelligent link-up play.
However, the match against Arsenal made sure that Bobby would end the calendar year with some improved numbers, thanks to a hat-trick in such a significant encounter. If Firmino can finish the season on the same level of consistency he is finally starting to reach in this new role, then he would have had two successive world class sessions in two different positions – a feature very difficult for the average footballer to achieve.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 30, 2018
Will Tite move pieces for Brazil to make room for Bobby?
There is always an ongoing debate regarding Firmino’s best position, whether he is a genuine striker and if he should be used in this position for the national team. One thing is for sure, he should have started against Belgium in the 2018 World Cup, which leaves us with a lot of what ifs.
But with the upcoming 2019 Copa América, one would wonder how his new club role in England will affect his status at the Seleção. Will Brazil boss Tite still regard him as a striker? Or could Firmino shining in this new Liverpool system, lead Adenor Bacchi to developing a new tactical scheme himself, making the 26-year old his joint star alongside Neymar in a creative role for both?
The best way to build a winning side is to try and field as many top players as possible, in a system that brings the best out of them. Spanish media outlet Marca has confirmed that Lionel Messi will compete in Copa América, aiming for the title with Argentina after having already failed in three finals. This means the tournament will be even more difficult, and Brazil has no room for error.
Roberto Firmino has everything at his disposal to guide his teams to trophies this season, with Liverpool being a serious challenger for the EPL, and Brazil one of the main favorites to win Copa América. All the versatile attacker needs to do is jump from the status of underdog, to top star.