Jürgen Klopp has compared Roberto Firmino’s importance to Liverpool to a musician playing “12 instruments in our orchestra” and insisted he had no concerns over the Brazilian’s quiet start to the season.
Firmino had struggled to exert his usual influence until Sunday’s fine display against Leicester and was replaced by Diogo Jota in the lineup for the Champions League rout of Atalanta, who visit Anfield on Wednesday. Liverpool would qualify for the knockout stages with two matches to spare with victory over the Italian club, whom they demolished 5-0 in Bergamo three weeks ago.
Klopp, who has deployed Firmino in 52 of his 53 European games as Liverpool manager, claimed this month he “could not help people” who needed reminding of the Brazil’s value. But he was full of praise for the No 9 on Tuesday, and believes Firmino’s confidence will improve following what was only his second goal of the campaign against Leicester.
“Bobby is a complete footballer,” the manager said. “A football team is like an orchestra, you have different people for different instruments. Some of them are louder than others but they are all important for the rhythm. Bobby plays something like 12 instruments in our orchestra. He’s very important. We can play well without him as well but I certainly want him on the pitch and if you look at the numbers, I like having him on the pitch a lot.
“I’m not concerned about anything with Bobby, but I know from time to time it happens that he scores a goal. This goal was very important and what I loved most was the reaction of the boys. You saw the celebration, it was really emotional. Obviously the players read newspapers and they saw there was some criticism so they were really happy for him to score.”
Liverpool’s reaction may also have been shaped by Firmino hitting a post just moments before claiming the goal his performance against Leicester deserved. He will be joined in the squad on Wednesday by Mohamed Salah, who has returned to training after two negative tests for Covid-19.
Klopp said: “Mo trained with the team yesterday and looked really good. All the tests were negative so now, if nothing changes, he’s available, which is good. But we have to see what we do because he was quarantined until three days ago.”
Liverpool have qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League after four group games only once before – in 2006-07, when they reached the final in Athens – and Klopp says it would alleviate “some problems” with the intense schedule they face. But he insists Liverpool cannot look beyond an Atalanta team smarting from their humiliation on home soil when the sides last met.
“Atalanta would be a threat without a point to prove,” said Klopp of last season’s quarter-finalists. “The night in Atalanta was really special, we played exceptionally well and pretty much everything went right. Things came together and we won the game the way we won it, but we know that has nothing to do with the game tomorrow night.
“Atalanta are a top team with a special way to play. We did well at Atalanta but we need to do well again otherwise we will have problems. I expect problems. It’s clear that if we win then some problems will be sorted. But we can only play one game, we cannot think about playing two or three games at once. We have to be ready to work really, really hard against them. Their man-marking system is really difficult to play against and that’s why they were so successful in the past years. They will not change, they will play in a similar way. We will see who we can line up and try to make the best of situation.”