Raffael: Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Brazilian Star

Borussia Monchengladbach’s veteran Raffael has had an incredible impact at both Hertha and Die Fohlen in his time in the Bundesliga. The Brazilian has been instrumental to Borussia Monchengladbach’s recovery after their atrocious start, when they lost their opening five Bundesliga fixtures after a harrowing 4-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 1. However, since Andre Schubert has come in, the club’s fortunes have changed dramatically as the Foals have gone rock bottom in the Bundesliga to challenging for a Champions League spot for the second consecutive season. One of the main factors for Monchengladbach’s recovery is the impressive attacking midfielder Raffael. The Brazilian, 30, is having one of the best seasons of his career with 15 goals and 10 assists in 34 outings this season for the Foals, including two goals in the Champions League.

Gladbach’s playmaker began his career playing in Switzerland with FC Chiasso. From a young age he impressed at the Swiss Club scoring 30 goals in 61 games in the second tier. His impressive performances earned him a move to one of the country’s biggest clubs, FC Zurich, in 2005. At just 20 years old the attacking midfielder again showcased his massive potential as he helped Zurich to back to back Swiss Super League titles in 2006 and 2007. The Brazilian was instrumental to the clubs consecutive successes, scoring over 40 goals in his two and a half year spell, while also topping the assists table in Switzerland.

Raffael: A Magnificent Season
Raffael: A Magnificent Season

After this magnificent time in Switzerland, Raffael joined Hertha Berlin in January 2008 where he was reunited with Lucien Favre, who had been Zurich manager in the midfielder’s time there. The Brazilian also played alongside his brother Ronny at the Olympiastadion. Raffael impressed in his first full season with the capital club, scoring eight times as Hertha finished 4th in the Bundesliga. He performed even better the following season but could not prevent the Berlin club from being relegated from the Bundesliga in 2010. Under the new management of Markus Babbel, Raffael began to thrive and he hit double figures in goals as Hertha clinched the 2. Bundesliga title and returned to the top flight. The Brazilian’s fifth and final season in the capital was a frustrating one, with the sacking of Markus Babbel putting the club’s season into turmoil as the club just stayed up via the relegation play-off.

Raffael joined Ukranian side Dynamo Kyiv in 2012, and like many players who go to Eastern European leagues his career began to stagnate. The playmaker managed just one goal in 13 appearances for the Ukranian side and his short and ill-fated was ended when he re-joined the Bundesliga with a loan spell at Schalke. The midfielder scored twice in 16 appearances in Gelsenkirchen, before permanently joining Mönchengladbach in the summer of 2013.

The attacking midfielder has relished playing for the Foals and his fifteen goals in his first season helped Mönchengladbach to a Europa League place. The following season the playmaker was as equally impressive as helped BMG get back into the Champions League after years of failing to qualify for Europe’s premium competition. The Brazilian also scored twice in the Europa League, however, Monchengladbach failed to get past the first knockout round losing to the eventual champions, Sevilla, 4-2 on aggregate.

2015-16 BUNDESLIGA SEASON

The native of Fortaleza, in northeastern Brazil, has helped transform Mönchengladbach’s season from its nightmarish beginnings. Raffael has showcased his strengths time and time again this season. The Brazilian’s on the ball skills have been evident with his strong and controlled dribbling, and he’s passing at an 81% completion rate, a number generally associated with defenders shuffling passes from side to side among themselves. His shooting is also a key strength this was highlighted by the Brazilian’s 35 yard cracker against Eintracht Frankfurt this weekend.  He’s created 117 scoring chances this season in league play, and has appeared in every league match for the Foals, starting all but one. Additionally, he’s only received two yellow cards in 2245 Bundesliga minutes while drawing 45 fouls.

The playmaker has very few weaknesses and despite his age is in perhaps the best form of his career. His 15 goals and 10 assists have put him 2nd in Squawka’s player ranking behind only Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski scoring a total performance score of 1049, and only one of his league goals has been from the penalty spot. Raffael has been a stand out player in the Bundesliga this season and is perhaps one of the most underrated in the league with perhaps his highlight of the season being a 3-1 win over current Bundelsiga champions Bayern Munich where he played fantastically.

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Max is an aspiring sports journalist, who has a big interest and passion for the Bundesliga, well as the English Premier and the SPFL in his home country of Scotland. @maxkellyLFC