Roberto Firmino set for leading role with Brazil after frustrating World Cup

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Roberto Firmino spent the majority of the World Cup watching on from the sidelines, but his fortunes have changed ahead of the next international break.

Liverpool’s No. 9 played just 82 minutes for Tite’s Selecao in Russia, with Gabriel Jesus preferred in attack despite his struggle for form.

Firmino was still able to score once over his four cameo appearances, but Brazil ultimately suffered defeat to third-placed Belgium in the quarter-finals.

He has since returned to his focal role on Merseyside, and despite a quiet start to the season in front of goal he has remained influential, dropping deeper following the arrival of Naby Keita.

With Brazil set to take on the United States (September 8) and El Salvador (September 12) in two friendlies during the upcoming international break, he can expect to be similarly key.

Jesus was left out of Tite’s squad as the 57-year-old looked to experiment with new faces, with Firmino and Fluminense’s Pedro the only strikers included.

The likes of Miranda, Fernandinho, Marcelo, Danilo and Paulinho were also omitted, with Fabinho among those to benefit—though the Liverpool midfielder is included as a right-back.

But injury to Pedro has seen the 21-year-old drop out, and with Everton‘s new talisman Richarlison called up in his place this leaves Brazil with just one out-and-out striker.

After his peripheral campaign at the World Cup, these internationals will be as much of an opportunity for Firmino as those youngsters drafted in by Tite.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 3, 2018: Brazil and Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the second goal during an international friendly between Brazil and Croatia at Anfield. Brazil won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He can be expected to start up front when Brazil travel to the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to take on Dave Sarachan’s USMNT, at the same venue that saw Liverpool beat Man City in pre-season.

Firmino could also keep his place for the trip to FedExField in Maryland, though it is feasible that Tite could experiment against lesser opposition in El Salvador.

Whether this should be seen as a positive for Liverpool is questionable, as Firmino’s backup role avoided risk of injury at the World Cup.

But for the player, it will be a major boost, with the 26-year-old’s form for the Reds since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp certainly warranting status as one of the best in the world.

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