Raphinha back in the UK, but will he make the Southampton game?

16 Oct 2021 08:34 am, by YorkshireSquare

The last week couldn’t have gone much better for Raphinha. Having missed out on representing Brazil back in August due to travel restrictions, with restriction lifted he set off for South America for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay. Raphinha made his full debut for the Verde-Amarela coming on as a second half substitute against Venezuela. Brazil were losing 1-0 but thanks to two assists from Raphinha and a fairly large hand in winning a penalty, they ended up 3-1 winners. In the second game against Colombia Raphinha was again a second half substitute, playing 29 minutes, showing his skills yet again and creating some great chances.

The wingers first start came against Uruguay where he stole the show. In 71 minutes Raphinha had 4 shots, created one chance but most importantly scored 2 goals helping Brazil to a 4-1 victory. It was a performance that had the Brazil fans as excited about Raphinha as the Leeds fans have been since his signing from Rennes last summer. Over the three matches Raphinha played 145 minutes, won 7 duels, had 6 shots on target, crated 5 chances, made 2 assists and scored 2 goals. It was a dream international debut and Brazil coach Tite publicly thanked Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United for developing Raphinha over the last season…

I publicly thank Bielsa for accompanying and working with Raphinha and all the coaching staff that brought him closer to the national team. I spoke personally with Bielsa and I thank him for that support with him.

With the last game kicking off in the early hours of Friday morning and Leeds playing Southampton on the south coast on Saturday afternoon was there realistically any chance of Raphinha being available for the game? When questioned about his availability during Thursday’s pre-match press conference, Marcelo Bielsa said there were ‘so many aspects to consider’. This includes how many minutes he played for Brazil, if he picked up any injuries and how well he will be able to recover in the 36 hours between games. After all a third of those recovery hours will be spent flying across the Atlantic, which is hardly ideal preparation.

But thanks to Twitter user Karam Tayser we believe Raphinha has made it back to the UK. Tracking private jets heading from South America to Europe he tracked a couple of flights. One headed to Madrid believed to be carrying Alisson and Fabinho, the other heading to the UK believed to be carrying Raphinha, Thiago Silva and Emerson. Whilst the jet flew past Southampton, Raphinha may have even got a glance of St Mary’s stadium, its ultimate destination was Biggin Hill private airfield in south London. Having landed just after 3pm, Raphinha had 23 hours to prepare for the Southampton game.

Do you think it’s likely he will feature this afternoon?