Rafinha, who will be filling in for suspended starter Joshua Kimmich, is said to be the player regarded as a “weak link” by Klopp.
He may be a decorated Brazilian international with more than a decade’s worth of experience in Europe’s top leagues under his belt. But Bayern Munich full-back Rafinha has been pinpointed as the weak link that Liverpool should look to exploit in tonight’s huge Champions League last-16 second leg at the Allianz Arena. However, that will not be news to Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.
Rafinha is a prideful veteran who will not need any extra motivation in dealing with Liverpool’s ever-dangerous attack.
Unless Bayern boss Niko Kovac throws a curveball by playing Jerome Boateng out of position at right-back, the responsibility of keeping one of the Reds’ flying attackers quiet will be down to Rafinha.
Soccer journalist Mark Lovell pointed out that Klopp has a history of applying pressure to Rafinha, which has caused the Brazilian to break at times. In his appearance on the Blood Red Podcast (as captured by the Liverpool Echo), Lovell first covered how valuable Kimmich has been for Bayern. He said,
Kimmich will be missed for sure. His attacking talents are outstanding. He’s one of the best crossers in the world. You mentioned his defensive lapses, but he’s tightened it up and he produced a decent defensive performance at Anfield. He’s definitely one for the future. Pep Guardiola loved him when he was at Bayern. He used to play him in the center of defense — that’s how good he was, like Alaba.
Later, Lovell briefly talked about how Klopp successfully attacked Rafinha during his tenure at Borussia Dortmund.
They will miss (Kimmich) and, interestingly, he will probably be replaced by Rafinha, a very experienced Brazilian defender, but a player who has repeatedly come up short in the Champions League. He’s a solid Bundesliga defender but he’s been found wanting on the European stage and Klopp will look to expose his weaknesses. He’s always been a back-up on a lot of occasions, but he’s always got game time with (Jupp) Heynckes and Guardiola, and he was always a respected member of the squad, but that changed recently. But Kovac needs him on Wednesday night, so it’s definitely one to watch, whether Rafinha does come under pressure, because he’s been exposed in the past by Borussia Dortmund and Klopp.
With Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane to contend with, Rafinha will likely just be one part of the of the Bayern defensive quartet tasked with slowing down the relentless Liverpool attack. It is doubtful that the Brazilian will be left on his own, though. As Bayern displayed in the first leg, the wings and midfielders did a superb job of supporting the defenders to prevent too many good opportunities for the Premier League power.