Paris Saint-Germain is now a day away from its highly anticipated UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg fixture against FC Barcelona.
Rafinha is not expected to start in this match but will be among the players who manager Mauricio Pochettino will have as a midfield option off the bench.
Ahead of the match, Rafinha provided for a lengthy interview with Le Parisien where he touched on numerous topics, including the famous La Remontada match in 2017. Like current PSG teammate Neymar, Rafinha earned a start for Barca in its dramatic 6-1 win over the French powerhouse.
This fixture is one that the Brazilian midfielder will cherish throughout his career, but for this upcoming match against his old team, that famous comeback is currently an afterthought for him.
“What club wouldn’t have suffered after that?” Rafinha said. “But luck is that today we have the opportunity to make up for the “remontada”, to play a great game and to remove this thorn in our side that is bothering us here in Paris.”
Rafinha is now sharing a locker room that has several players who were on the wrong end of that 6-1 fixture. The Brazilian knows that for his current PSG teammates, they would surely not want any advice ahead of this fixture against the Catalan giants.
“Help them, no,” Rafinha said. “They don’t need help to know that they have a huge opportunity, to find motivation for such a match. I can tell you that all the players of this club want to get on the field and win this match. The key will be this motivation that everyone will find to be able to beat Barça.”
PSG took the lesser-known route in getting to the Champions League knockout stage.
At one point during the group stage portion of the competition, PSG was on the verge of dropping to the Europa League. Rafinha has plenty of learning lessons from PSG’s roller-coaster Champions League group stage run.
“The Champions League campaign was very important to us, it united us even more as a group, as teammates,” Rafinha said.
“When more or less nobody believed in us, didn’t imagine us qualifying, we had a great discussion between players. It brought us together even more and we could see that. Both on the victory against Leipzig and the success in Manchester. It was a step forward as a team, even when I think about the events against Basaksehir.”
Rafinha also touched on his goals for this season. The Brazilian aims to emerge as a starter for the team and wants to do so in one preferred position.
“For me, the goal is to be a starter,” Rafinha said. “That’s my mentality, my state of mind. I want to play everything I can, improve myself, become a better player, learn from my teammates and, above all, win titles. I want to be a starter in every competition we play.
“The one where I feel most comfortable is in the middle of the field. It’s true that I’ve been used to playing in different positions, as a forward, as a right winger, in a two-man midfield … I go where the coach asks me.
“But I especially like to play in the middle. For example, with Mauricio, the midfielders play either flat or in a more forward position. That’s where I feel best.”
It will be interesting to see whether Rafinha will be provided with a chance to play against his longtime club.
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