Analysing Roberto Firmino's excellent performance against Hoffenheim
Roberto Firmino was the star on Wednesday night as Liverpool eased to a 4-2 win at home against Hoffenheim to confirm their place in the Champions League group stage. Although their defence remains a concern, the Reds have a superb attack led by the Brazilian. Since Jurgen Klopp took over, the 25-year-old has adapted his game and he has now mastered the false nine role that he is asked to play.
The attacker was playing against his former club and their supporters would have noticed how much he has improved since making the move to Anfield. His movement is superb and causes opposing defences a lot of problems. It is difficult to show good movement through statistics, but the third goal highlighted everything that Firmino does well.
Firmino dropped deep to receive the ball and gave it back to Gini Wijnaldum before breaking his neck to support the attack. He managed to overlap Sadio Mane and run into space, giving him the easy task of squaring the ball to an unmarked Emre Can. It was excellent movement and reading of the game. The Brazilian saw what was happening in the play before anyone else and he was a major part of the team goal.
After the break, the 25-year-old managed to get on the score-sheet himself to put the game beyond doubt. He timed his run in behind the defence perfectly and had the simple task of slotting into the back of the net. It was a reward for his overall display and showed his cool head in front of goal, as the outcome was never in doubt.
Although his main responsibility is to create space for the Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to run into, Firmino has looked more of a goal threat during the first few matches of the season. In an attack like Liverpool’s, chances will be created and the forward is always looking to get on the end of them. He attempted three shots on Wednesday and made a further three key passes. When watching Liverpool, it is clear that he is vital to their style and if he continues to play as well as he did against Hoffenheim, the team will be in strong shape.
In addition to his attacking threat, Firmino works hard without the ball and is always looking to press opposition players. He leaves nothing out on the pitch and it is his work rate that has pleased Jurgen Klopp most. During the second leg, he made two ball recoveries and attempted five tackles during the match. He may not have been successful with the majority of them, but he was always looking to win the ball back and that is admirable.
Liverpool have a huge season ahead and it remains to be seen whether Philippe Coutinho will remain at the club. However, Wednesday showed that they don’t need the midfielder in order to perform to a high level. Firmino is more than ready to become the leader of the attack and would thrive under the extra pressure if his compatriot was to leave.
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