LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 3, 2018: Brazil's Roberto Firmino during an international friendly between Brazil and Croatia at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Roberto Firmino backed for World Cup starting role after goalscoring cameo for Brazil

Roberto Firmino came off the substitutes’ bench to help seal Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico on Monday, enhancing his claims for a World Cup starting role.

Firmino is yet to start for Tite’s Selecao in Russia, with Man City striker Gabriel Jesus preferred in every group game and for the last-16 meeting with Mexico.

After a phenomenal season with Liverpool that saw him establish himself as one of the finest all-round centre-forwards in Europe, the 26-year-old’s omission has been questionable.

Stepping off the bench to net the second goal for Brazil at the Samara Arena, albeit with a tap-in, Firmino should have strengthened his claim to take over from Jesus in the quarter-finals.

Along with his remarkable industry, movement and creativity, Firmino has now registered a goal in just 37 minutes at the World Cup, with Jesus yet to score in 349 minutes.

Former Celtic and Barcelona striker Henrik Larsson, serving as a pundit for ITV, believes he should take over from his City counterpart against Belgium on Friday:

“This is a tap in but he’s there at least. You have to think a little bit now, four games Jesus hasn’t scored in.

“[Firmino] comes on and scores with his first touch more or less. You have to start thinking about it.

“I also think that with Firmino in the team, there is a little bit better holdup play and also combination play with him when he’s playing compared with when Jesus is playing.”

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Wednesday, June 27, 2018: Brazil's unused substitute Roberto Firmino, with a tattoo 'Love Life' on the fingers of his left hand, on the bench before the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group E match between Serbia and Brazil at the Spartak Stadium. Brazil won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is an opinion shared by Liverpool fans…

“If Brazil want to progress they need to drop that kid Jesus, who’s not performing, and start Bobby.”

Andrew McAndrew on Facebook.

“If Brazil really wants to win easily and not slogging it off like this, they should start Firmino or at least play him earlier. So far out of the 4 matches, 3 of them he had made an impact on them getting that second goal.”

lfc.eddie on the forums.


And supporters of other clubs alike…

Brazil take on Roberto Martinez’s Belgium in Kazan on Friday night, and with a place in the semi-finals at stake it remains to be seen whether Tite will be willing to change his selection.

But on the basis of Firmino’s performances at the World Cup so far, and Jesus’ lack of productivity as the Selecao struggle to fire, it would be wise decision.

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