Barcelona have finished their work ahead of the World Cup following a euphoric 2-1 victory over Osasuna. It leaves the Blaugrana top of the table over the break, with a minimum two-point lead over Real Madrid. In no small part, that is due to a moment of brilliance from Raphinha.
The same day of the match, Raphinha had also revealed that he had spoken with manager Xavi Hernandez to request that he was only played on the right side of attack. The Brazilian had been starting on the left, with Ousmane Dembele in his favoured position.
“I spoke to the coach to tell him that I wanted to help the team as much as possible and that on the left I wasn’t managing to do so, and I was playing games that weren’t helping the team, him, me or anyone else. And that I didn’t mind competing with ‘Ous’ (Dembélé), who is a great footballer, because I would like to compete in my place, where I am more comfortable and where I can contribute more to the team.”
“In the moment I’m going through, on the left I can’t contribute much.”
Raphinha made those comments to Que t’hi jugues, as carried by Mundo Deportivo.
The Brazilian came on for Dembele on the right side of attack in the 78th minute against Osasuna and just 7 minutes later, he looped a brilliant header over Aitor Fernandez for the winner. The run for the goal shows exactly what Raphinha can bring on the right, drawing his marker out first, before darting between the full-back and central defender with perfect timing.
It is fair to say that if Raphinha had not made that request, then he would quite likely have started on the left side – Xavi had been using him there whenever he picked his strongest team for the biggest games.