Tactic Talk – Roberto Firmino’s role continues to define Liverpool’s front-three
We generally speak about Liverpool’s front-three and how good they have been, especially in the last seven months or so. Phillipe Coutinho’s departure only increased the pressure on the coveted trio to deliver for Jurgen Klopp’s men in the second part of last season.
They stepped up big time and almost took Liverpool to Champions League glory. Mohamed Salah has come out on top, scoring an umpteen amount of goals since his arrival last summer. Even Sadio Mane has been scoring and contributing to the front-line.
However, there is one player whose benefaction goes under the radar at times – his name is Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian, who was signed for a fee of £29m, is one of a kind if we talk about strikers dropping in to play as a false nine. Below, we take a look as to how Firmino performs the role which makes the other two tick, ultimately defining the modern-day front-three of the highest order:
A unique centre-forward – Firmino
You won’t find Firmino in spaces where you would expect to see a proper number nine. Instead, the Brazilian likes to position himself between the lines to attract a centre-back towards him, concurrently creating space for either of Salah or Mane. Since, the front-three play in a narrow shape, any space created gets punished more often than not.
The Brazilian also has the awareness to release either of them in space to unleash a shot at the goal. If we recall Liverpool’s first goal against West Ham last week, the 26-year-old forayed as deep as the midfield to pick up possession. By doing so, there was a huge gap between the midfield and the defence, the latter of which was occupied by Salah and Mane.
In that situation, Naby Keita ran into space, picked up possession from deep and the rest of it is history. This is a perfect example of how a false nine works for others, which is quite unique in many senses.
In addition, Klopp’s high-press is also started by Firmino. The Brazilian often marks the opposition defensive midfielder to prevent him from picking up possession without attention. Meanwhile, the other front men cover the wide areas.
Despite taking nothing away from the performances of Salah and Mane, Firmino is the cog which runs the front-three of Liverpool in fine tune. They work at best when in unison because of their enviable understanding.