When Rafinha joined Bayern from Genoa, it was obvious that he would be deputizing for the world's best right back and Bayern captain Philipp Lahm. The Brazilian gave Lahm some much needed rest throughout the campaign as Bayern went on to an unprecedented season by becoming the first German club to win the treble (Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, and Champions League). However, Rafinha's time on the pitch has greatly increased this season under Pep Guardiola. Yes, a lot of that is due to various injuries, but Rafinha has stepped up and played very well when called upon by Guardiola. If Bayern are to emulate the success of last season, then he must continue to play as well as he has been in 2013.
Bavarian Football Works was lucky enough this week to have the opportunity to ask some questions to Bayern Munich right back Rafinha. I want to start by thanking Juan Arango for helping to arrange this for us.
In last season's match away to Dortmund, you were sent off and then, on your way off the field, got into shouting matches with Jakub Blaszczykowski and Jürgen Klopp. Matthias Sammer was quick to jump into the argument, and he and Klopp had to be separated. Is there any real animosity building between the two teams or is this just regular match emotions?
These kind of emotions happen on the pitch and stay on the pitch. We respect the other teams, and we just want to win our games. I believe that there is a big rivalry and things sometimes get out of proportion because of this, but I felt at the moment that what I did was wrong. I called Kuba and everything is fine now.
How important is this weekend's match against BVB knowing that a win will put Bayern seven points clear of them at the top of the table?
It will be a very important match because we want to continue our pace for the championship. Winning there would be a great step to that, but after that game, there are another 21 games to go. So, there is a lot of competition ahead of us, but a win against Dortmund is special.
The last time Bayern won away to Dortmund you were still playing at Schalke. What about this Bayern team makes you believe that they'll finally get another win there.
If we play hard and take advantage of our chances, I believe that we can come out on top. They know how to use their home field advantage. They are a great team, and it will be a very tough match.
What is your most memorable moment in a Bayern shirt?
Last season was very special where we won the treble, and I was happy to be part of this great team in that great season.
What do you feel is your biggest improvement as a player this season under Guardiola?
I have my confidence back, and I believe I am playing my best football in a Bayern shirt.
How much different is the play style Guardiola asks of you from the one Jupp Heynckes used?
Guardiola is a much more modern style coach, but the main thing is that both are great coaches that know how to get the most of each one of us.
What were your, or the team's, biggest challenges in adapting to Guardiola's system?
Guardiola is a great coach. He try to install a modern brand of football for our team. In the beginning, for a team who had won everything and then makes some changes of the system we did not know why, but after he explained to us we were able to absorb everything and one can see that we have been playing some great football now, even better than before.
How likely do you think your chances are of participating in the World Cup this summer?
I will never quit believing that I have a chance. I am sure that the Brazilian National Team coaches are looking at me, and if I continue to have good games for Bayern, the opportunity could be there. But, at the same time, Brazil has two great right backs with Dani Alves and Maicon.
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