a “scarransit” without godfathers who triumphs in Neymar’s Brazil

Sao PauloAlisson Becker was the goalkeeper of Internacional de Porto Alegre; Danilo and Alex Sandro were the two Santos full-backs that won the 2011 Copa Libertadores with Neymar Jr. rising star; Thiago Silva is an idol at Fluminense; Marquinhos has always been a supporter of Corinthians; Casemiro left São Paulo… and so on. Having played in the Brasileirão before making the jump to Europe is not an indispensable condition to earn a place in the Brazilian national team. But it helps, and a lot. Mainly, because the crowd of origin and the city’s media are transformed into a pressure group, which, first, demand the call and, then, defend the permanence in the yellow green with club or regional dues.

Raphinha Dias Belloli, however, breaks the unwritten rule. It is a self-made man medially isolated who has not cultivated any prior environment that has helped him rise to the selection. Born in Porto Alegre, he failed the entrance exams for Grêmio and Internacional, of which he is a fan, because he was “scarred”. It was his turn to wander through several clubs in different states and ended up at Avaí, from Florianópolis, where he played in the Copa São Paulo de Júniors, the youth trophy with the most tradition in the country, before making the jump, in February 2016, at Vitória de Guimarães, of the Portuguese league, where he became professional.

Until a year ago, Raphinha was unknown to the Brazilian public at large. He played for Leeds United and the Premier League is only televised by ESPN channels on paid platforms, which only 27% of the population has access to. His coach, Tite, a gaucho like him, caught the attention of that fast and courageous winger, with a collective game concept. The technical staff of the selection he looked for references in Brazil, but it didn’t work out. A call to Marcelo Bielsa, who was then his coach, facilitated his call-up at the start of the 2021-22 season. “He is a decisive footballer”, justified Tite, who will make his debut in the World Cup with his team on Thursday 24 against the difficult Serbia (8 pm).

Beyond the experts in international football, Raphinha was an anonymous player, without a face or a voice, because he also did not lavish himself with interviews with the Brazilian media, as the middle class who play in Europe strategically do to stay on everyone’s lips.

Repeating the same situation in all the clubs where he has played, from Vitória Guimarães to Barça, Raphinha had to row alone in the Brazilian team, where, yes, he was very well received by the dressing room, starting with Neymar and the technical staff

The Brazil-Uruguay that changed everything

And in record time he carved a hole in the right wing, beating Antony, then at Ajax and now United, to the pulse darling of the fans of São Paulo. It was reach and grind. The best match with his selection is the batting as a starter in the Brazil-Uruguay classic, on October 14 of last year, in a setting as untraditional as the Arena da Amazônia, in Manaus. The selection crushed the celeste of Luis Suárez and Cavani by 4-1 with two goals from Raphinha, who understood perfectly with Neymar. The yellow green he confirmed himself as the leader of the South American qualifiers for Qatar 2022 and the Xarruas fell to seventh position, outside, even, of the repechage. Five days later, the Uruguayan Football Association dismissed Maestro Tabárez, who had been the coach for 16 years.

The footballing understanding with Neymar, showing that they played with the same style of music, was decisive for the gaucho winger to be named first lieutenant of the PSG star, closing any possibility of debate. Tite then focused on finding the other two complementary pieces for the ace of the team: the left wing, where Vinícius Jr. he has never been indisputable and he will arrive in Qatar competing with Lucas Paquetá (West Ham) for the title, and the centre-forward, where Richarlison (Tottenham) is the favorite against Gabriel Jesús (Arsenal) and Pedro (Flamengo).

On his own merits, Raphinha has achieved and maintained sacred cow status in his national team and has dealt with the pressure of wearing thehopscotch, which has sunk many great players. His name, like that of most of the headlines that Tite has appointed, arouses consensus among the footballing public opinion in the country.

The sequence of good matches with the selectionwhere he has enhanced his own talent and that of his teammates, brought him closer to Barça, where he landed this summer convinced that, at the age of 25 and after traveling through Portugal, France and England, he would make the definitive leap in quality in a very favorable setting for Brazilians.

In Barcelona, ​​where he plays without any compatriot by his side, he still has the mission of convincing an expectant environment. Surpassed by Ousmane Dembélé in the plans of Xavi Hernández, he has not been able to repeat the crushing start he signed with his selection. Nor has he shown the same consistency and regularity that it would come as no surprise that he now displays in Qatar.


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