Brazil's national team coach Dunga has released his list of players called up for the Seleção's October qualifiers for World Cup 2018 in Russia, and two FC Bayern Munich players are included: Douglas Costa and Rafinha.
Based on his current club form, nominating Douglas Costa is not much of a surprise. The forward has been dazzling the Bundesliga with his strong wing play, his blazing speed, and his work rate but his fellow Bayern teammate Rafinha is in a different situation altogether.
Dunga's predecessor, Luiz Felipe Scolari called up the diminutive outside defender for the first time in the player's career at the ripe old age of 28, for a pair of friendlies in 2014, prior to the World Cup in Brazil (due to hosting the tournament, the Seleção did not have any qualifying matches to play). Unfortunately, though he was considered, Rafinha ended up not making the WC roster.
Reports surfaced earlier this year that Rafinha had applied for German citizenship, which the player confirmed. Speculation on the motive for this move was not far behind. Having only played in friendlies for Brazil, technically would have made him eligible to switch allegiances, and provide German national team coach Joachim Löw with a workable solution for the void that was left at right back by Philipp Lahm's retirement (Rafinha's desire to play for Germany never really got past rumor stages).
Dunga's nomination changes all of that. Even at the ripe old age of 30, Rafinha has shown that he can still play, and can at least be counted on to step up in the wake of the injury to starting rightback, Dani Alves. If the coach gives Rafinha any playing time against Chile (October 8th) or Venezuela (October 13th), he will be permanently tied to the Seleção, according to FIFA's rules.
Whether this will lead to a spot on the WC2018 roster is up in the air. Rafinha will be 32 years old, and a lot can change in roughly three years, with promising young players, like Fabinho, coming up through the ranks. But, it gives the Bayern right back/midfielder a foot in the door, and a chance to impress Dunga.
Along with Costa and Rafinha, VfL Wolfsburg's and former Bayern player Luiz Gustavo is also on the roster, as the only three players from the Bundesliga.