The real but not flashy Firmino—the key to the “Red Army” dynasty

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Liverpool led by Klopp has set off a wave of red in Europe in recent years. It not only successfully led the team to the finals and won a championship in the Champions League for two consecutive years, but also challenged the Premier League championship for two consecutive years. After successfully ending the embarrassing historical record of Liverpool’s failure to win the Premier League, the top and stable performance for two consecutive years has declared the official opening of the “Red Army” dynasty.

However, in this red wave, players with brighter data are often more likely to be noticed, such as Salah and Mane in the frontcourt, two guards with swords Arnold and Robertson in the backcourt, or VanDijk and Allison in the defensive line. As one of the main frontcourt tridents, Brazilian forward Firmino, under the premise of not as many goals as Salah or Mane, and no more assists than Arnold or Robertson, has always been the main forward in Liverpool’s starting lineup. Most of the fans watching the “Red Army” know the importance of Firmino as the team’s offensive and defensive system. However, this is a Brazilian striker who is born in a football kingdom that has always emphasized the gorgeous style of football. Today I will lead readers to examine (the data provided are all Premier League matches) why Firmino is an indispensable role for Liverpool led by Klopp, and can even be regarded as the key to the “Red Army” dynasty.

As one of the Tridents in the Premier League’s new superpower Liverpool’s starting lineup, Firmino’s data performance is indeed not as impressive as the other two African teammates. The following is a comparison of the number of Premier League goals and assists after the Trident officially merged in the past three seasons.

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Firmino Salah Mane
2017/18 15 Goals
7 Assists
32 Goals
10 Assists
10 Goals
7 Assists
2018/19 12 Goals
6 Assists
22 Goals
8 Assists
22 Goals
1 Assists
2019/20 9 Goals
8 Assists
19 Goals
8 Assists
18 Goals
7 Assists

 

In addition to the fact that the first season after the official fit was better than Mane, the offensive assist data of Firmino in the next two seasons is undoubtedly the most inconspicuous of the three. So what is the reason for the unremarkable Brazilian forward to always occupy the team’s main frontcourt position? The author believes that there are two main reasons:

First, a high degree of understanding of the tactical system (or tactical requirements);

Second, comprehensive personal ability, tenacity mental attitude;

A high level of understanding of the tactical system: it is the glue for the team’s offense and the engine for the team’s defense

It is well known that to establish and play Liverpool’s “oppressive anti-grab” style more efficiently, Klopp’s midfield configuration has been dominated by engineering players in recent years. To make up for the lack of creativity in the midfield, Klopp In addition to effectively using the ability of the two full-backs to press assists, another important tactic is to allow forward Firmino to retreat to the midfield position from time to time to share some offensive organization tasks.

The key to being called the adhesive of the team’s offense is that Firmino’s retracement can not only attract the attention of the opposing defender, but also cause confusion in the opponent’s rotation defense (such as whether the opposing defender should keep up with the defense, or Become a midfielder for defense), and more importantly, it is possible for Salah and Mane on the left and right to more effectively use the speed advantage to attack the space behind the opposing defender (especially when the defender is attracted by Firmino’s withdrawal and leaves the original defensive position time). And Firmino’s retracement does not necessarily require the ball to create opportunities. The greater value comes from the retracement that caused the opponent’s defensive communication errors, and then through the offensive ability of the full-back to create with Salah or Mane on the wing. The opportunity to attack the space behind the opposing defender, especially Arnold’s sudden long pass and Salah or Mane’s sudden acceleration and coordination, can be said to be very pleasing to the fans, and the assist ability of Arnold and Robertson is believed to be unnecessary. Explain.

However, the combination of two full-backs with Salah or Mane can become one of Liverpool’s main offensive methods. It is inseparable from Firmino’s frequent retreat. (Imagine if the opponent does not retreat, the defense will be relatively simple. In this case, it is more difficult to use long passes to attack the position behind the opponent’s back defense). In other words, the reason that Firmino is inferior to Salah and Mane in the number of goals and assists is actually to maximize the efficiency of the two full-backs and Salah or Mane’s offensive ability. It is not difficult to understand why the team’s top two in the number of goals are Salah and Mane, and the top two in the number of assists are Arnold and Robertson.

Firmino’s retracement is not only to make his teammates successful but also to share the task of midfield organization. From his average of 1.4 Key Passes per game, it is higher than any midfielder on the Liverpool team. Can be known. Not to mention that the offensive tasks that should be undertaken as a forward are also not sloppy, such as 2.6 shots per game (second only to Salah), and as an important fulcrum on the offensive end, conceding only one goal per game is also excellent. In Salah and Mane.

Therefore, as a forward, Firmino not only has to take on the task of attacking the city but also need to connect other teammates on the offensive end. This also shows that as the team’s offensive glue, although the data is not so bright, it is not. be lacked.

Besides, in addition to offensive tasks, in the team’s system, forwards are also the team’s first line of defense after losing possession of the ball. In Liverpool’s “oppressive and anti-robbing” system, the defense is a task that requires the entire team to commit at the same time. As the forward closest to the opponent’s goal in the team’s frontcourt, Firmino is not only defensively oppressing the opponent by running, but also needs to make different defenses based on the position of the opponent’s player and the ball, and the position of his teammates on defense. Decisions, such as how to stand to block the opponent’s pass path (masking), whether teammates should fill the gap behind them or press together, and so on. Liverpool’s defensive system requires coordination between the entire team. That is to say, Firmino, as the first line of defense, will affect the decisions of other teammates in defensive. A defensive line that makes bad decisions from the beginning will naturally increase the difficulty for teammates in defense.

It can be seen that, as a forward, not only does it have to have a huge task on the offensive and defensive ends, it can be said to be a mountain and a sea, and Firmino has been very competent in both offensive and defensive performance in recent years. This is bound to It is based on a high level of understanding of the team’s tactical system.

Comprehensive personal ability, tough mental attitude: continuous and high-quality tactical execution ability

A deep understanding of the team’s tactical system is not enough to make Firmino a part of the Liverpool dynasty, because there is still a big gap between knowing and doing. From the gap between knowing and doing, Firmino relies on comprehensive personal abilities and a tough mental attitude.

As mentioned earlier, the number of tasks to be undertaken as a Liverpool striker is huge, not only offensive but also responsible for defense. Although the number of goals and assists is not very prominent, Firmino’s comprehensive capabilities can still be seen in the overall data. For example, in the comparison of the total passes, total touches and total shots of all frontcourt players in the Premier League this season, respectively It is the third, sixth and fourth in the Premier League; some indicators on the defensive end, such as interceptions, tackles, etc., seem inconspicuous this season, but looking at the data for the past five seasons, Firmino has three consecutive In the last season (15-18 seasons), among all the frontcourt players in the Premier League, the number of tackles ranked the top two in the Premier League; the number of interceptions was the top ten in the Premier League for two consecutive seasons (16-18 seasons), indicating that its defense is indeed Possess a certain level of ability, not to mention that many defensive values ​​cannot be presented by the data (such as a position blocking the opponent’s originally better pass path, a successful pressure preventing the opponent from effectively organizing the pass and other defenses. success).

As for the tough mental attitude, in addition to the naked eye evaluation of the fans, the author believes that the running data can also highlight the commendable quality of Firmino. The following is the average 90-minute running distance data for the Premier League this season (Liverpool):

The average running distance of 90 minutes (km)
Firmino 9.05
Henderson *9.55
Wijnaldum 8.66
Arnold 8.02
Robertson 7.96
Salah 7.65
Mane 7.7

 

It can be seen from the chart data that, except for Henderson, the captain of the midfielder, Firmino leads the other main teammates in the running distance by almost 1 km per game. We can also look at the comparison with the key front field or midfield players of the top four Premier League regulars in recent years:

Player The average running distance of 90 minutes (km)
Firmino 9.05
Sterling(Manchester City) 7.73
Bruyne(Manchester City) 8.85
Aubameyang(Arsenal) 7.21
Son(Tottenham) 6.98
Vardy(Leicester) 6.87
Mount(Chelsea) 8.68
Jorginho(Chelsea) *9.77
James(Manchester United) *9.73
Rashford(Manchester United) 6.66
Martial(Manchester United) 6.47

 

The comparison of the data in the chart highlights the fact that Firmino, as a striker, has a large running distance that is even the threshold for a midfielder. In other words, Firmino, as a forward in Liverpool’s system, is not only responsible for attacking the city and linking up teammates on the offensive end, but also as the first line of defense on the defensive end to maintain a high degree of focus at all times to make the best. Decision-making, these huge tasks can be said to have far exceeded the traditional definition of strikers.

It can be seen that the reason that Firmino can occupy the team’s main forward position for a long time and as an important part of the team’s dynasty is by no means a fluke. The following uses Coach Klopp’s evaluation of Firmino as a summary of this chapter:

“Firmino is an incredibly important player for this team. If you’ve speed around you, you can be this little cheeky guy in between the lines, being there, and scoring goals. He’s very very valuable for us. ”

–Klopp

YNWA

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