Gini Wijnaldum learned all about how difficult Roberto Firmino's Liverpool role is when he played as a false 9 in the Champions League semi-final, first leg loss at Barcelona last year.
Reds assistant Pep Lijnders, a Dutch compatriot of Wijnaldum's, has told AD in Holland that Wijnaldum had even more respect for his teammate after playing in his position in the 3-0 defeat at the Nou Camp last May.
With Firmino struggling through injury and only fit enough for the bench, Wijnaldum earned plaudits for his display in attack alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
But despite having more possession and recording more shots, the Reds succumbed to a 3-0 loss that looked to have put the tie to bed, with Lionel Messi firing home a stunning free-kick for the third and final goal.
After the match, Lijnders says Wijnaldum had a better understanding of what his Brazilian teammate does for the team.
"We played at Barcelona last season with Gini as striker. He played very well, although we lost 3-0," said Lijnders.
“In the dressing room, he immediately walked over to Bobby Firmino, the actual striker, who was not fit enough to start.
"He said, 'Bobby, do you do this every game? Respect! I now see how heavy it is'. That is beautiful. Everyone is responsible for everything, we say. But nothing works better than when players themselves feel what everyone's position demands.
"Not to take away their own specialism, but to experience it."
Firmino wasn't fit enough to even make the squad for the second leg, with Wijnaldum starting on the bench as Salah was also ruled out with a head injury.
What happened next has passed into Liverpool folklore, with Wijnaldum coming off the bench at half-time to score twice and help mastermind as astonishing turnaround that helped the Reds to the Madrid final.
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