Rafinha is enjoying a new lease of life at FC Bayern München this season
Rafinha is enjoying a new lease of life at FC Bayern München this season

Reborn Rafinha sets sights on Rio

Munich - Ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for Marcio Rafael Ferreira de Souza - also known as .

"Played brilliantly"

The Brazilian is enjoying something of a second coming at FC Bayern München under Pep Guardiola and is now hoping to carry his fine form onto the grandest stage of them all at next year's FIFA World Cup.

"Rafinha is a superb player," beamed Guardiola in the wake of his side's rampant victory at FC Schalke 04. "I am surprised about his performances. He has played brilliantly in these last matches and has done well in training as well."

No less of a surprise is the fact Rafinha, typically seen as a squad player, is even in the first XI to start with, but following Bayern captain Philipp Lahm's switch to the holding midfield role in the absence of Javi Martinez, the Londrina native has seized his chance with both hands - and then some.

Modest numbers

After taking in just 15 minutes of action following the first two games of the 2013/14 campaign, Rafinha has since enjoyed a three-match Bundesliga stint in the starting line-up, as well as featuring in the DFB Cup and the UEFA Champions League group stage win over CSKA Moskva from the get-go.

At first glance, his average numbers are not all that much to write home about, but at just 172 centimetres tall, perhaps that is to be expected. Although the Brazilian's success rate in the tackle (54.5 per cent) is far more in line with an advanced midfielder, Rafinha is nevertheless squeezing every last sinew from his pint-sized frame.

"I can make it"

In any case, it cannot be easy living in the world-beating shadow of first-choice right back Lahm. "You mustn't forget, Lahm is the Germany captain and captain here too," Rafinha explained. "It's clear he's Bayern's right back of choice. He plays to an unbelievably high level [but] I'm always here, if the coach needs me."

Yet Rafinha's deployment in the first team should no longer be considered merely out of necessity - at club level anyway. The question now becomes one of whether he can translate his domestic revival into a place at the World Cup. "No one knows who will be his [Dani Alves'] back-up next summer, Rafinha said. "If I keep up with my form and play matches, there's a possibility I can make it." On current form, he has as good a chance as any.

Gregor Nentwig / Christopher Mayer-Lodge