FIFA World Cup 2018: Roberto Firmino – The Underrated Genius

Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino didn’t start a single game at the World cup for Brazil but certainly deserved to start a game for the Brazilians. He is one of the most underrated players in the World and Brazilian coach Tite not giving him a single game even though he has scored a couple of goals, coming on off the bench deep into the game, spoke a lot of what the Liverpool striker is capable of. He brings something completely different to the team and last season at Liverpool he showed us all that he brings to the team.

It is safe to say that he was under the shadow of the incredible achievement of Salah but what people fail to see is that Salah would not have been able to perform that way if he did not have a Firmino alongside him. He provides the likes of Salah and Mane the liberty to express themselves in full flow up front. His contribution to the build-up play is second to none, his unending pressing of the ball, and his brilliant positioning not only in and around the box but also in important midfield positions when needed to that has been pivotal in Liverpool’s attacking prowess last season, something that is expected to improve after the arrival of Keita and Fabinho. His contribution has resulted in Liverpool becoming the second highest scoring English team only behind Manchester City.

Just looking at pure statistics, Roberto Firmino averages 1.8 key passes per game – an outstanding amount considering the fact that Manchester United’s midfield marshal, Paul Pogba averages only 1.5 key passes a game. In fact, Tottenham’s young sensation, Dele Alli averages 2.0 key passes a game despite having more of a role as a playmaker.

In terms of his positioning, it’s clearly evident that he doesn’t position himself as a traditional striker would position themselves. It is almost like he has a free role and most often is seen playing a false nine role like Lionel Messi does for Argentina.

Another fascinating statistic that popped up: Firmino averages 0.2 offsides a game. This is 2.5 times less than Mohamed Salah’s 0.5 offside(s) a game, while Tottenham’s Harry Kane averages 1.1 offsides a game; Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero clocks in 0.7 offsides per game and Manchester United’s Romelo Lukaku averages 0.6 offsides per game.

Another important facet of his game is his incredible defensive capabilities. Liverpool’s high press game starts right from the front with Firmino and Liverpool manager Klopp saying he wished he signs a lifetime contract speaks a lot in itself.

Another one of his multiple outstanding stats is that he averages 1.7 tackles a game.

To give some context, Pogba averages 1.3 tackles a game, and Liverpool’s two centre-backs, Lovren and Van Dijk, average 1.0 and 1.1 tackles a game respectively. That’s right. Firmino makes more tackles than his own club’s central defenders. All of this combined with smart, usually late, but well-timed runs into the box make him a lethal weapon of mass goal scoring for the Reds.

“Bobby” as the Kop call him lovingly, is clearly not the traditional number 9 like that of a Harry Kane and brings something completely different to his team and the combination of his smart runs, superb positioning and relentless pressing makes him one of the best in the World and why Tite hasn’t provided him with the chance of playing a full game is beyond me. He is still clearly highly underrated by the Brazilian manager but is certainly a genius in his own right.

Liverpool FC: What Does Naby Keita Bring on the Table?

Naby Keita Liverpool

These are exciting times for Liverpool fans as they are set to welcome two new midfielders at Anfield this week. The main focus, however, will be on Naby Keita who Liverpool went all out on last summer after the departure of Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho. The Guinean international has had two stellar seasons in Germany but has been lately criticized for his aggression over the end of last season. The former Leipzig man has received three red cards in seven games, that spanned only 39 games.

But all three of his cards were nothing more than an anomaly with all three – one for a Sadio Mané-esque high boot against Borussia Mönchengladbach, another for a swipe of the arm on international duty and the last for two yellows against Bayern Munich in the DFB Pokal – coming at completely different situations and are unlikely to be repeated in quick succession as they are completely unrelated to one another. Liverpool supporters, however, are not dampened by the dismissals and are waiting in anticipation to watch the man play for whom the Reds have agreed to pay a premium on top of a £47m release clause in order to beat other interested parties to the Bundesliga standout for the 2018/19 campaign onwards, has all the attributes to transform the Reds into something altogether more cohesive, robust and threatening.

Keita is known to be a box to box dynamo who takes up the responsibility of pressing hard from the midfield roles, breaking up opposition attacks and starting the teams attack from a deep midfield role. He has averaged 3.1 interceptions per 90 minutes, a figure no Liverpool player could match in the Premier League, he also made three tackles per 90 last term – again, a return no Liverpool with more than 85 minutes of action to their name could better – while he has taken that average to a staggering 4.1 per 90 in 2017/18.

Keita offers everything that the current Liverpool midfield needs with the likes of Mane, Salah, and Firmino up ahead with an added x-factor of being incredibly dynamic and instinctively creative.

In terms of weakness he can sometimes slightly be caught up ahead of the ball and his aggression can overspill sometimes. But overall he is a phenomenal talent that Liverpool will only benefit from because of his all-around midfield ability that hasn’t been seen at Anfield since Steven Gerrard.

Why is everyone praising Mayanti Langer after IPL?

Mayanti Langer

Mayanti Langer – Sound familiar? No wonder in that. She was the vibrant and young anchor of the Indian Premier League this year. With her talent to steal the show and her in-depth knowledge of cricket, she kept the fans entertained and informed through the thrilling ride of the entire season. 

Image result for mayanti langer

The Indian journalist works for STAR and with Star Sports gaining the media rights for the cash-rich league this year, she became the face of the network. Twitter was filled with praise for the Indian host with big names like Anil Kumble and Kumar Sangakkara also included.