Leeds winger Raphinha is very much the new darling of the Brazilian media, so it was little surprise to see them up in arms after a controversial incident that cast a shadow over their 0-0 World Cuo qualification draw against Argentina.
Matches between the two South American giants are always feisty affairs. And while both have already booked their place at Qatar 2022, there was plenty at stake during the clash at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario.
Indeed, Raphinha is quickly becoming a fans favourite in Brazil. In just 45 minutes on his debut versus Venezuela in October, Raphinha notched two assists and won a penalty. In his first start days later, he shone again, this time bagging two goals in a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay.
So when experienced Argentina centre-half Nicolas Otamendi swung an elbow at Raphinha that caught the Leeds man full on in the face, there was full on anger from within the Brazil staff and the national media. Given the elbow drew blood from Raphinha’s mouth then saw VAR take no action against the former Manchester City man, it is easy to see why they were so incensed.
Brazil manager Tite was furious that VAR didn’t deem a red car appropriate. Indeed, UOL – via the excellent Sport Witness – quote him as saying: “It’s inconceivable. And I say less, that’s not the term I meant, I’m saying it because I’m polite.”
Meanwhile, UOL’s Julio Gomes salued the reaction of the Leeds United player, writing: ‘He showed his blood to the referee and had a “Premier League player attitude”. No show, no rolls on the floor.
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‘Raphinha set an example to her teammates and to every soccer player in the country. More preoccupation with the game, less theatre and attempts to deceive or influence those who already have to make a lot of difficult decisions on the field.
‘Raphinha’s blood is not from a cockroach. Raphinha’s blood is that of a professional football player. It is the blood of those who respect the sport. Congratulations to him. That kind of attitude is worth a lot more than a goal.’
Raphinha in huge show of faith to Leeds
The United winger, 24, is fast becoming one of the Premier League’s most in-demand forwards. Whites fans were already well aware of the enormous talent and attacking threat Raphinha provides. So too are Liverpool who have been persistently linked with the flyer.
However, his international exploits with Brazil in the last two international breaks have opened eyes further afar.
However, speaking to Spanish outlet AS, Raphinha has outlined his big ambitions with Leeds.
“From my first days at the club, I already saw how special Bielsa was.
“He is a guy who works a lot, who knows a lot about soccer. He is the typical professional who dedicates 100% of his time to the institution he represents and we are very lucky that he is our coach. Bielsa knows how to get the most out of each one of us. This makes us raise our level.”
“I am very happy at Leeds and hopefully we can play the Champions League,” he added.