Tuesday, June 6, 2023

‘In these games you show the world how good you are’ Rafaelle speaks ahead of crunch UWCL tie v Bayern Munich

Arsenal defender Rafaelle says she is relishing Wednesday night’s UWCL quarter-final second leg against Bayern Munich at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners trail 1-0 from the first leg but the Brazilian cannot wait to get started at 8pm on Wednesday evening. Rafa was injured for last season’s quarter-final against Wolfsburg and for much of the group stage this season.

“For me, to play these games, these are the games I like the most- the hard games,” she tells Arseblog News at the MD-1 press conference. “In these games you show the world how good you are. When you play easy games, the back four are not the ones who are on the stage.

“When you play against good teams and forwards, you get to show how good you are, how you can defend and battle and winning those little battles shows everyone and maybe it brings you a good result too.”

Lea Schuller’s goal made the difference in the first leg and the Bayern forward caused lots of problems with her movement in the first leg.

“We don’t pick up players individually, we defend zonally so me and Leah know what to do,” Rafa explains. “Whether it’s me, or Leah, or Beats (Jen Beattie) or Lots (Lotte Wubben-Moy) we know our role. We’ve got the squad and the skills, we just need to work hard to make it happen.”

Despite the defeat last week, Arsenal can take encouragement into the second leg. They were very unfortunate not to score at least once in Munich and were left aggrieved by some penalty claims that did not go their way. But Rafaelle says Arsenal left the first leg with a good feeling.

“The first leg was amazing, especially in front of their crowd in a nice stadium. I knew it was going to be a hard game, we know the German teams are always difficult. We have to be tough, German teams are always very good physically and we have to be stronger than them and win the little battles.

“We’ve had a good week of training and I think the whole team had a feeling after the game in Germany last week that we can beat them. We feel really well prepared for the match.

“We know it’s going to be a hard game and we cannot make any big mistakes. I feel like we have a great team, we feel ready. We know it can go either way so we have to make sure we don’t make big mistakes.”

For the player, the UWCL was a big part of the reason she came to the club last January, having played in Brazil, USA and China, Rafaelle wanted to sample the biggest stage in European club football.

“Since I got here I had two major injuries and when I came to Arsenal, I wanted to be seen for people to see my football. I played six years in China and I didn’t have that visibility.

“I know my potential, I played in the Brazilian national team for so many years and I know how I can help the team. I want to play as much as I can and help my team get through to the next round. We have a great team and a big chance.”

The match is set to be played in front of a crowd of around 20,000 at the Emirates, it’s a stage the team is getting used to, having played all their group matches there and having drawn crowds in excess of 40,000 three times now in the WSL.

“It’s amazing, I am so happy to see so many fans at the games. It’s so much better as a player to play with this support. It’s like an extra player in our team. I think Bayern maybe had this last week, though we had a big crowd of travelling Arsenal fans too.

“Playing at the Emirates is such a big stage for us and we are going to enjoy it and with that extra player, we can do it.” Arsenal have already secured the Conti Cup this season and are embroiled in a four way tug of war for the league title, Rafa insists the team are looking no further than Wednesday at the moment.

“We have a good chance in the league too but right now the focus is on Bayern and the Champions League. We’re going to need everyone, including the fans. I feel like we can do it.”

She admits that injuries to Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema at the end of last year and the players want to win the trophy for the first time since 2007 for them too.

“For us, we have two extra players because they are always with us. We see them at training every day and we see how much they want to be in the team. We have to play our best for them because they are part of this team, they are two big legends at this club they deserve to be part of this (winning the UWCL) but first we need to do it for this club and then for them.”

Arseblog News will have an exclusive interview with Rafaelle on the site on Friday morning.

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Bruce

COYGG

Fun Gunner

β€œ..I think the whole team had a feeling after the game in Germany last week that we can beat them,”

YES, Rafa. 100% correct.

Come on, Arsenal!

Chris

This aged VERY well!

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