A new role for Roberto Firmino in Brazil

There is no centre forward who works as hard to win back the ball as Roberto Firmino. He sets the tempo for Liverpool but he is so much more than just a workhorse. He gets into positions where many forwards would go for glory but Bobby is unselfish.

And yesterday we watched a new chapter on that story when Firmino entered for Brazil against Costa Rica; not as Gabriel Jesus’s substitution, as usual, but as Paulinho’s replacement.

Playing in a 4-1-4-1 formation Paulinho has many defensive skills, but he is well known for his entries in the six yard box and his potential as a striker. There is even a joke in the Brazilian team saying Paulinho is the true centre forward of the Seleção.

Unfortunately, the Barcelona midfielder did not have a good day, and the Brazilian team felt his poor offensive contribution. He was also marked by the good defensive job of Costa Rica and their line of five.

Taking a look at Firmino’s work in the Premier League with Liverpool, we can see a typical centre forward action: offensive presence in the opponents’ area and defensive presence is his area, to assist with set piece balls.

On defensive actions by Twelve, we see just that: good at recovering balls in front of the opposite box and making clearances in front of his own goal. He made a total of 11,113 points in 2,848 minutes, an average of four points per minute.

Against Costa Rica, we saw Firmino doing defensive functions in spaces he is not used to attending. That’s because he was doing Paulinho’s functions as intern midfielder. He made 97 points in 31 minutes, an average of three points per minute. Not too distant from his work with Liverpool.

During the press conference after the match, manager Tite explained that he talked with Firmino during training, and the forward told him he used to play as a midfielder at Figueirense, his former club in Brazil.

According to Twelve data, Paulinho was still more influential than Firmino against Costa Rica, but it’s undeniable that the Liverpool forward had a paramount performance doing things he is not used to doing at his club.

For example, one ball recovery (worth 64 points) made at minute 85 started a beautiful offensive play by Tite’s team. I analyzed it on my Twitter account, and the video below is courtesy of InStat Football.


Roberto Firmino is not only one of the best strikers in the Premier League, but he also has an essential role as playmaker. Twelve data show us he scored 14,335 points in offensive actions, a five points per minute average which put him as one of the most influential players in England.

But that’s not news to Liverpool fans. What is a novelty from Bobby is his ability to assume a new role in the Brazilian team, and how Klopp can take advantage of that. It’s the confirmation of a great player, full of skills and with the capacity to read the match and make the difference.

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