Roberto Firmino has easily been one of Liverpool’s best players this season and he says that ‘huge centre-backs’ don’t intimidate him.
Very often, when South American footballer make the switch to European and English football, they struggle to cope with the physical demands of Europe’s top leagues. Some leagues, like Spain’s La Liga, don’t require the players to be as physically menacing as the Premier League does and as a result, the more technically gifted players suffer.
For instance, when Philippe Coutinho joined Liverpool, he struggled for several months against full-backs that were stronger and more powerful than he was. Once he began fighting back and using his superior ball control and pace, he quickly began asserting himself as one of the best midfielders in the country.
A player that has always struggled to cope physically is Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil. The German playmaker makes the most of his peerless eye for a pass to get around the physical battle that is inevitable in England.
One player who has never struggled to cope with the robust nature of the Premier League is Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. The former Hoffenheim midfielder embraces the way you have to fight in England’s premier football division.
Speaking in the latest edition of the official Liverpool FC magazine, Firmino said, “Sometimes people see you as skinny and then they think ‘Oh, he is not a strong player.’
“But what matters is what you feel and what you do inside the pitch. No matter how skinny you are, the important thing is how you think psychologically.
“If you think you are strong, you are really strong and I class myself as a strong player. I’m not intimidated by powerful defenders.
“Maybe when you are younger, playing against huge centre-backs might cause some fear to you but when you are an older player, there is no more fear. You simply play as best you can and go about your work. That’s what you do.
“There is no fear at all.”
This lack of fear and fight which embodies Firmino’s style of play are reasons why Jurgen Klopp chooses the Brazilian over Daniel Sturridge. The Englishman is incredibly gifted but doesn’t suit Klopp’s gegenpressing philosophy. While Firmino might not have fear of huge centre-backs, huge centre backs have fear of Firmino.
With 16 goals in all competitions in 2016, Firmino has well and truly found his feet and is earning more and more recognition for his exploits as Liverpool’s false nine. Klopp’s decision to move Firmino further forward has proved to be an inspired decision.
Do you think Firmino is a better striker than Sturridge? Let us know your opinion in the comment section below.