While it has been a wild ride for Borussia Mönchengladbach fans this season, the club know that back-to-back wins in their final two games of the season will secure UEFA Champions League football in 2016/17. One man they can rely on to contribute towards that aim is Brazilian attacker Raffael, who has contributed 13 goals and ten assists to the Foals' rise to fourth.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com the 31-year-old discusses this weekend's clash with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi and qualifying for next season's Champions League.
bundesliga.com: Raffael, Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl described this as a strange season for Borussia. As it draws to an end, however, a place in Europe is secure and the UEFA Champions League still possible. How would you assess the campaign?
Raffael: Max Eberl hit the nail on the head: it’s been a crazy season, and one which is quite hard to explain. We lost five games in a row at the start of the season, then Lucien Favre left and then we couldn’t win away from home for months. and it’s in our own hands to reach the Champions League. That’s really crazy – but so is football sometimes!
"Chicharito's a world-class footballer and one of the best in the Bundesliga."
bundesliga.com: Better than Raffael?
Raffael: I’d say so. There are a lot of excellent footballers in the top European leagues. You could compare plenty of them and ask plenty of others and get completely different answers as to who is better. At the moment, probably only one player would win every comparison, and that’s Lionel Messi.
bundesliga.com: That’s very humble of you, but you have recorded the best combined tally of goals and assists in your career in what has been a turbulent season…
Raffael: That’s true, and it’s something I’m very proud of. It’s been the best season of my career to date and I’ve had the feeling that I’ve been getting better and better in the last three years at Borussia. Obviously it also helps that I’ve been pretty fit throughout: I think a torn muscle was probably the worst I’ve had to deal with. Things just fit nicely here for me – my family and I feel very comfortable, and would happily stay for longer.