Raphinha's new role, Xavi's latest invention at Barca

Raphinha's new role, Xavi's latest invention at Barca

It must not have been easy for Raphinha to see how, overnight, he went from being the favorite to replace Ousmane Dembélé in FC Barcelona's starting eleven to feeling relegated to the sidelines again after his red card on the opening day of La Liga. Ferran Torres and Lamine Yamal took advantage of his two-game absence to demand more prominence and, when he was available again in the fourth match of the calendar, against Osasuna, the Brazilian only played 10 minutes. After the break, it was evident the winger would have to 'win over' Xavi Hernandez again.

Raphinha's reaction to this situation has been impeccable. At least on the pitch. He has started two of Barça's four games, scored two goals, provided two assists and, in the contexts in which he has had to turn the score around, has proved to be a very interesting alternative to attack the dreaded line of five defenders. In recent matches, the Brazilian has occupied inside areas and has played alongside another right winger, Lamine Yamal. He has been successful in generating attacking opportunities and this has allowed him to regain his lost leadership.

The No 11 has disproved the cliche that says that confidence is gained little by little, but that when it is lost it is very difficult to regain. In record time, with his characteristic rebelliousness and his dream intact of triumphing at Camp Nou, he has reminded us that he is not yet a heavyweight in the squad, but he is an important player. The internal competition will be maximum and Xavi already warned that nobody will be indisputable. Raphinha, nevertheless, has scared away ghosts and, in addition, has shown virtues hitherto unknown to be part of the square of the midfield when the coach egarense considers it opportune.

There are several figures from 'Opta' that also highlight Raphinha's impact. Firstly, he is the player in the five major European leagues who has scored and assisted the most goals in the same game so far in 2023 in all competitions (with six, he surpasses Madrid's Vinicius, who has done so on five occasions). On the other hand, in Palma he became the second Barça player to reach double figures in goals scored this calendar year (10). He is only surpassed by the 'killer' Robert Lewandowski (21). Finally, the Brazilian is the LaLiga player who has scored the most goals from outside the area in the same time frame (4).

The point that the Catalan side salvaged at Son Moix would not have happened without the character of Raphinha, who rebelled against Mallorca's superiority at a key moment of the match. His numbers in Palma were really good. He scored one goal and assisted the other, made three successful dribbles, intervened 80 times, made 49 passes with an 80% success rate, made three key passes, created one clear scoring chance and missed another, won eight duels and caused four fouls. On the negative side, the losses. He constantly took risks with his decisions and execution and finished with 24 wasted possessions.

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