Xavi's message to Raphinha before he left to Brazil

Xavi's message to Raphinha before he left to Brazil

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Raphinha is travelling to Brazil, where he has been called up by the Seleção to play in the first two qualifying matches for the 2026 World Cup. This journey gives him reason to reflect and self-assess his current situation at Barcelona in this exciting start to the season.

It was expected that the winger would return to Barcelona's starting lineup in Pamplona this Sunday after serving a two-match suspension imposed by the Competition Committee for his expulsion in the opening league match, the 'Getafe battle.'

With Dembélé's departure to Paris this season, 'Rapha' has moved up in the hierarchy and is the theoretical starter on the right wing of the attack. His role should be the same as the successful one he played in the second half of his first year at Barça when Ousmane Dembélé was injured in January at Montilivi. His goals and assists were crucial in winning the league.

However, Xavi Hernández had a different game plan for the challenging visit to the battle-hardened Osasuna. He chose to reward the progress of Lamine Yamal and his outstanding performance in the previous match, keeping him in the starting lineup. Raphinha had no choice but to wait for his opportunity from the bench.

And when the Catalan coach made substitutions in the second half, his first attacking option was to bring on Ferran Torres (another player who benefited from the victory against Villarreal) in the 59th minute, replacing Yamal, even with the score at 0-1.

Later, Joao Félix made his debut for Barcelona, just after Chimy Ávila equalized the match with a fantastic goal. Xavi was seeking goals and firepower to turn the game around.

Raphinha's turn only came in injury time, with the score at 1-2 and Osasuna down to ten men due to Catena's red card. The Brazilian, who was expected to play a significant role, ended up having a symbolic appearance on the field, in a stadium where he had scored a crucial goal last season that allowed Barcelona to go into the Qatar World Cup break as the league leaders.

'Rapha,' who demands the best from himself, knows that he needs to contribute more. Today, he crosses the Atlantic, and in the next ten days, he faces a new challenge: to convince the new Brazilian national team coach, Fernando Diniz, that he can be a valuable part of the new Seleção project. The first Seleção training session is already scheduled for tomorrow.

Initially, the coach, who combines his role with managing Fluminense, had left Raphinha out of his initial squad, similar to what he did with Vitor Roque, despite being the most influential 'number 9' in the Brasileirão. However, the injury to Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr., who is sidelined for six weeks due to a muscle tear sustained against Celta de Vigo, has reopened the doors of the Seleção to the Gaucho winger.

This is a golden opportunity for Raphinha, who had not been called up again by the Seleção since starting in the Qatar World Cup under the tactical guidance of Tite.

Brazil plays on Friday in Belém, the capital of the Amazonian state of Pará, against Bolivia in the debut of the South American qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. And the following Tuesday, they have a second match in Lima against Peru.

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