Pressure mounting on Raphinha, on and off the pitch

Pressure mounting on Raphinha, on and off the pitch

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The Seleçao expects a substantial improvement from the blaugrana against Switzerland given Neymar's absence due to injury.

Raphinha will be closely watched on Monday in the Brazil-Switzerland match, which could seal their place in the round of 16.

The Barça winger, who is expected to start, must step up from his debut against Serbia, for two implied reasons.

The absence of Neymar Jr. due to injury, who is the undisputed leader of the Seleçao and the team's most influential player, leaves a huge hole to fill.

If not for that, the Blaugrana has been the target of criticism (sometimes unjust because of its virulence) for the chances spurned on opening day.

Tite will continue to rely on Raphinha, because he is very pleased with his tactical position, sacrificing himself in the defence as he did in Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United, and because he was brave in all offensive actions, even though his aim was off.

The Brazilian coach has never considered taking the Barcelona player out of the team. In addition, Antony, who is his immediate substitute, has not been in the team for two days in a row due to "discomfort", according to the CBF.

The last few hours have not been easy for Raphinha off the pitch either. A sector of the Brazilian press has criticized him for his fiery defence of Neymar Jr. on social media, with a post that said "the biggest mistake of Neymar's career was to be born Brazilian, this country does not deserve his talent and his soccer".

Neymar Jr.'s stance in defending the vote for the far-right Jair Bolsonaro during the recent election campaign further polarized the country. And the number 10's injury, which has left him out of the group stage, has not endeared him to a sector of the Brazilian population that does not forgive him for his support of the extreme right.

Ex-footballer Walter Casagrande Jr. has been extremely critical of Raphinha's post. "What Brazil does not deserve is to have supporters of fascists, racists, homophobes and sexists like Neymar himself and some others who are also in the Seleçao. I prefer to think that you, Raphinha, don't know what you are sharing on the internet because if you agree with this, consciously, I am very sorry. Maybe you don't deserve to be Brazilian either," he said in his column on the UOL portal.

He also recommended the Culé study Brazilian history and further added that "Raphinha is trying hard to take Neymar's place as the Seleçao's disliked one".

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