Thiago can prove to be the one who gets Roberto Firmino back on track. The Brazilian is currently misfiring for Liverpool.
Roberto Firmino has not played well in recent weeks but Thiago could help could him back to his best.
You only need to look at the stats to see that Firmino is struggling. Four games in, he’s scored zero goals and assisted one. Players have tackled him six times and he’s given the ball away with a bad touch on 14 occasions.
Against Aston Villa, Firmino completed under 68% of his passes. That means he’s misplacing nearly one in three. That’s all quite shocking from a player who’s usually so tidy.
In all, this should worry Liverpool.
Change of plan
Originally, we wrote how Thiago and Firmino could tear teams apart. They compliment each other wonderfully and the two of them can thrive together.
But as Firmino is out of form, the hope for the duo changes. It’s no longer about reaching new heights – it’s about getting Firmino back to his best.
Fortunately, Thiago can help him do that. The problem with Firmino, judging by his stats, is that teams are putting too much pressure on him. He’s being tackled and misplacing touches, while he can’t pick out passes consistently.
Thiago fixes all of that, though. As soon as the £20m Spaniard comes into the side, teams will have to reduce the pressure on Firmino.
For one, he’ll no longer be the only playmaker. Teams can’t just drop their midfield line to reduce the space around him – they’ll have to push up to press Thiago. Immediately, Firmino has more space.
But it’s more than that. Team also can’t afford to crown Firmino by bringing players across. Doing so leaves gaps and Thiago will find open players virtually every time.
Compacting a back four is a good strategy to combat Firmino, for example. It means both centre-halves are around him and he has far less time. But doing so means there’s space on the wings. Now, usually, Liverpool struggle to exploit that space without an elite passer in the side.
That’s no longer the case. Opponents will have to spread out and cover the wings or Thiago will consistently find the wide players. Once more, Firmino has more space.
It’s a quick fix but hopefully an effective one. So while Firmino is struggling, let’s wait and see what he can do with Thiago before we panic.