This World Cup has taken Liverpool fans down a rabbit hole into a strange and inscrutable parallel universe where Roberto Firmino, in form and ready to play alongside longtime friend and teammate Philippe Coutinho, is not an automatic starter for Brazil. But fear not, because John Aldridge has some words of praise for Liverpool’s crafty and madcap number nine to remind us all that we’re not crazy.
“When you’ve got three players [up top], you’ve got to strike a balance - we’re very well balanced,” he told the official site. ”You’ve got to get different things from different players and he just balances it. The way he comes off, the other lads can go into a central role, Mane or Salah.
”I think he’s the best mover of the three of them; he drags people out of position with his movement, he’s very clever, he opens spaces up for the other two to take advantage of. Don’t forget he scored 25 goals or so last year, which in itself is tremendous, plus his assists are right up there as well. The way we play, he’s absolutely vital, he’s always involved with the other two.”
So friends, next week when you’re scratching your head because Tite once again refuses to bring on Roberto Firmino until after the 65th minute to fire up a stagnant Brazilian team, rest assured that you are not misremembering Bobby’s incredible talent. He is, in fact, that good.