Raphinha, an emerging star in a team system3 min read
Marcelo Bielsa has been characterized throughout his career as an innovative manager with ideas that differ from conventional football fashions and whose nack for details, tactics and the study of the rival is quite impressive. The Argentine has been changing his tactical system over the years. For example, in the Chile national team he used 3-3-3-1 while in Leeds United FC (his current club) he plays with a 4-1-4-1 in which a lot of players excel, including today’s protagonist, Raphinha.
The most important thing about Bielsa’s philosophy is that it focuses on the functioning of the team as a unit, where each player fulfills a specific role on which the final performance of the team depends. Hence, normally, Bielsa teams do not usually have a prominent star, but rather the majority of the regular starting eleven players stand out. At Leeds United FC, this premise is being broken a bit as the Brazilian Raphinha is standing out above the rest.
Raphinha’s career has gone quite fast if we consider that he has passed through several clubs in a relatively short period although always with an important progression since when he arrived in Europe, he did it to the reserve team of Vitoria SC Guimaraes and then he would go to the first team.
He would be signed by one of Portugal’s biggest teams, Sporting Clube de Portugal, where he would stay for only one year since he would go to Stade Rennais FC, a club with which he would also spend a season before signing for Leeds United FC at the beginning of this season.
The Brazilian had little problems adapting to England and the English Premier League at the beginning and he has already established himself as the right winger of Leeds United FC, playing with the opposite profile as he is left-footed. Within Bielsa’s system, it is important to play wide and the wingers have part of that responsibility, although they do not do so close to the rival box, at least in the 4-1-4-1 proposed by The Whites.
Reviewing his statistics, we can see that he is one of the players with the most participation (goal or assistance) in goals per 90 minutes, only behind Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Heung Min Son.
From a tactical perspective, Raphinha has adapted quite well to his role within Bielsa’s setup, which is demonstrated in the constant rotations he makes with the right back, Luke Ayling and some of the midfielders, which allows them to create spaces in the rival defense. The Argentine manager is characterized by demanding constant pressing from all his players and it is an aspect that some resent due to the physical and even mental demands that he requires, which is something that the Brazilian does not seem to suffer.
For Leeds United FC it has been, without a doubt, their best signing so far this season and his growth does not seem to have ended as it is seen that, partly thanks to Bielsa, his ability in different aspects of his game is excelling.