By James Miller – @JimmyMiller2608
Having seen the club season draw to a close, several of Liverpool’s key players were selected to represent their country’s across different national tournaments, including the Copa America.
The competition – in which international sides located in the CONMEBOL region participate – began on June 15th and came to a climax earlier this week.
Two Liverpool players came through a gruelling tournament as eventual winners, with Alisson Becker and Roberto Firmino both representing their home country Brazil.
Admittedly, the former stole much of the limelight due to another outstanding individual tournament, which saw him take home a third Golden Glove award this calendar year, but Bobby’s contribution should not be forgotten.
Throughout the competition Firmino proved his qualities as creative forward, contributing to a magnificent five goals in just six games. Liverpool’s key man wasted little time adapting to surroundings, setting up his former clubmate Philippe Coutinho in Brazil’s opening match, their first goal from open play.
A quiet game followed with a rather dull 0-0 draw against Venezuela. However, it proved to be a game which had little bearing on his confidence – Firmino dusted himself down and came back to put in a fabulous performance against Peru, chipping in with a goal and an assist.
Out of the group stages and into the quarter-finals, Bobby will want to forget about Paraguay fairly quickly you’d imagine. Following a second scoreless draw in three games, the two sides couldn’t be separated after extra time and a penalty shootout was required and Firmino himself took a spot kick, only to miss a poor penalty that, thankfully, wasn’t too crushing.
Just two wins away from a second major trophy in not long over a month, Lionel Messi and Co. provided a stern test for the Brazilians, but Firmino still shone adding a providing a detrimental contribution, setting up Premier League rival Gabriel Jesus to make it 1-0 early on and then settling the tie later in the match with a finish of his own.
Familiar opponents in Peru were left standing in his way of securing his first title with his country and Brazil first title in 12 years. A few days on from mauling their opposition by a five-goal margin, not many people would have doubted the winners and they certainly delivered.
A comfortable 3-1 victory rounded off an impressive tournament, whilst also adding to Firmino’s recent collection of winner’s medals.
Amongst a crop of talented footballers both for club and international level, Bobby’s ability sometimes gets left at the back of people’s mind. A fine tournament should definitely refresh those thoughts, highlighting his undoubted quality.
While playing alongside two of the finest African footballers in world football in Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, it’s easy to understand why Firmino doesn’t always grab the headlines. The pair of wingers collectively gathered 44 Premier League goals last time out, earning them both the title of golden boot winner 2018/19.
Although, when it comes to representing Brazil, it could be argued that his finishing ability in particular is often overlooked, with Jesus a preferred option on many occasions. Naturally, Firmino is of course more of a deep lying attacker often tagged to the No.10 role, something which may play as a downfall in competing with a more familiar frontman for the striker’s position.
In term of direct goals, Firmino will rarely provide 30 or 40 individually per season. However, his dynamic style of play, linked with his imaginative vision separates him from many other forwards around. A tireless worth ethic, complemented by his link up play with teammates, allows not only himself to thrive but others around him to too.