Liverpool produced one of the more woeful performances of the Jurgen Klopp era on Tuesday as they crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.
The German surprisingly dropped attacker Roberto Firmino, on a reported £180,000-per-week at Anfield [Source: Spotrac], with Daniel Sturridge replacing him against the Serbian giants.
The Englishman failed to get anything going in Belgrade and missed a gilt-edged chance to put the Reds ahead early on in the contest.
With the team failing to fire so spectacularly throughout the game, the performance highlighted the importance of Firmino to this Liverpool team.
The Brazilian is the one who sets the tone in Klopp’s team, pressing from the front and ensuring that the opposition doesn’t get a moment’s rest. Sturridge is a decent worker, but Firmino is a different animal when it comes to Klopp’s famed gegenpressing.
That was missing against Red Star as the hosts weren’t put under enough pressure and looked far too comfortable against a team of Liverpool’s quality.
Firmino didn’t exactly set the world on fire when he came on against Red Star, but he is far more suited to a starting spot than the role of impact substitute.
The Reds face a struggling Fulham side on Sunday and it’s vital that Klopp recalls Firmino. The Cottagers are jittery at the moment and so Liverpool need to get in their faces from the get go and make life difficult for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.
Firmino is the man to do that, and Tuesday’s showing demonstrated that the 27-year-old is more important to the Reds than his strike partners Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
It’s vital that Liverpool get back on track on Sunday and to do that it’s imperative that Firmino returns to the fold after Tuesday’s horror show.