Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino is rearing to prove his mettle in the Champions League and ensure his side doesn’t miss Philippe Coutinho when they come face to face with Porto in the Champions League last-16 opener. The Brazilian knows his fellow country mate’s departure is sure to hurt Liverpool in Europe but believes he can take the creative responsibility on his shoulders and help the club go deep in the competition. Firminho has been prolific in Europe to say the least; he was behind only Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of goal scored in the group stages of the Champions League.
Firmino has unrivalled potential as an attacker when it comes to penetrating the opposition defences and scoring goals for his side but he has never been adjudged with the credit that he deserves. Salah and Firmino have paired up spectacularly well this season and are the second highest goal-scoring duo in the competition after PSG stars Neymar and Edinson Cavani. After Coutinho’s move to Barcelona in January, Firmino is keen on shouldering the responsibilities and get the goals coming for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Portugal top-flight leaders Porto in the Champions League, Firmino assured he is ready to take the responsibility and help the team score more goals.
“Coutinho is a great player and of course when he left that put a greater responsibility on everyone else to perform without him,” Firmino told a press conference.
“It is our job to deal with greater responsibility and I think we have done that so far. I’m going to do what I can to help (Salah) score goals and to help all the team. I also want to help myself to make a good season,” he added.
Porto are enjoying a decent run in the Primeira Liga and have asserted a two points lead on top of the table but are being closely followed by second-placed Benfica. They have remained undefeated in the last 21 games and will present a daunting challenge for Liverpool to doze off. However, Firmino is confident of dismantling their opponents and is planning to make them suffer. “I don’t know if Porto are going to be afraid but we are going to make their life difficult and make them suffer,” said the Brazilian.
Firmino has been in fine form this season, scoring 20 goals in his last 36 appearances for the Anfield outfit. He has taken a more central role at the club since Coutinho’s departure and has earned the backing of his manager to get the goals. The potent goal scorer can be on the march to match the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and has a strong belief that he could reach their levels. “Of course I want to be at their level – I am trying to give my maximum for the team and trying to be alongside these great players in Europe,” he said. Adding that, “but I only focus on playing a good game. If I play a good game then the goals will appear.”
Liverpool scored the second highest number of goals in the Champions League group stages in the history of the competition and Firmino has been the force behind the side’s brilliant run in front of the goal. Klopp too has time and again expressed his happiness on having the Brazilian attacker at his disposal and said that Coutinho’s departure has brought the best out of Firmino.
“I don’t think he has stepped up recently but maybe it is more obvious because his situations are not overshadowed by Phil Coutinho’s situations. That’s how it is. He’s a very important player and he doesn’t always have to be the standout player. As often as he can be, that’s good,” opined Klopp.
“Is he underrated? I don’t think so, not anymore. I don’t know what other people think about Roberto Firmino. But people with a football brain judge him right,” he added.