When Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino was left out of the squad entirely against Huddersfield on the weekend due to a minor muscular issue—believed but not confirmed to be a groin injury—thoughts quickly turned to Wednesday.
To the Champions League and Barcelona and a massive semi-final first leg tie at the Camp Nou. Manager Jürgen Klopp sounded positive when discussing Firmino’s status, but even then it was hard for fans not to be concerned.
Those concerns appear largely put to rest today, with Firmino returning to training with his teammates and fully involved in the final session at Melwood before the team flies out to Barcelona for tomorrow’s marquee match.
Firmino’s importance to how Liverpool play is hard to overstate, and Klopp has previously singled him out as the one player in his very deep and talented squad who is able to put in world class performances “almost every day.”
He leads the line, creates the spaces for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané to attack, sets up his teammates and sets the press. He will even regularly track back into his own penalty area to cover for a caught-out midfielder.
His talent, intelligence, and work rate mark him out as the attacking fulcrum the rest of the team is built around, and if any one player can be said to be irreplaceable to how this Liverpool side play, it’s the false-nine Firmino.
If he hadn’t been ready—or if there are issues with his fitness that develop between now and kickoff—it’s likely that Klopp have would moved Mané to centre forward in an effort to cover for Firmino’s absence.