Portugal's Raphael Guerreiro came through a challenging game against Morocco with plenty of experience. - © © gettyimages / Francisco LEONG / AFP
Portugal's Raphael Guerreiro came through a challenging game against Morocco with plenty of experience. - © © gettyimages / Francisco LEONG / AFP

Raphael Guerreiro: Borussia Dortmund and Portugal man on an upward trajectory

Step by step, game by game: Portugal and Borussia Dortmund's Mr. Versatile, Raphael Guerriero, is rapidly regaining maximum momentum as he goes in search of FIFA World Cup glory and the perfect start to the 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign.

New BVB coach Lucien Favre will have been closely monitoring the French-born Portuguese full-back - who has featured in every minute of his adopted nation's world title tilt in Russia to date - and sizing up where he might fit in in the coming Bundesliga campaign. The truth is, that Guerriero could feature in several positions next term, and fill each role well enough to command a starting berth.

An injury-plagued 2017/18 season saw the former Caen and Lorient player feature in just 15 games in all competitions for Die Schwarzgelben. Returning in October from the broken foot he sustained at last summer's FIFA Confederations Cup, Guerreiro soon fell foul to a series of thigh tears that brought more frustration to an already trying Dortmund campaign.

However, even with the limited amount of match time he managed across four competitions for Dortmund last time out, the man from the Parisian suburbs displayed his class in four different positions. The left-footer proved a reliable deputy to captain and left-back Marcel Schmelzer while he was also deployed on the left wing, in central midfield and at defensive midfield. He has also played at attacking midfield at various times during an impressive career.

In a fantastic first season with Dortmund following his move to the Bundesliga giants from France in 2016, Guerreiro scored seven goals and supplied an incredible nine assists in all competitions and ended the campaign by lifting the DFB Cup following his team's win against Eintracht Frankfurt. The club's coach at the time, Thomas Tuchel, said of the former Portugal U21 international: "Rapha is far too good to be fixed in one position."

Born to a French mother and a Portuguese father, Guerreiro never wavered when it came time to choose international allegiances. Instilled with the footballing passion of his father, the young star put language difficulties aside in order to join up with A Seleção.

Previously declaring his favourite player to be Cristiano Ronaldo, Guerreiro would go on to win UEFA Euro 2016 with Portugal, his injured footballing idol looking on from the sidelines in the French capital.

Just two years on and the pair are looking to collect the game's ultimate prize in Russia. A tricky Group B contest against Morocco at the finals - which Portugal won 1-0 - left its mark on Guerreiro who had difficulty at times against the opposition's Nordin Amrabat, against whom the full-back suffered a slight injury to his side. Yet according to teammate Jose Fonte, it was a game which would stand the Dortmund man in good stead in terms of experience. 

"Raphael Guerreiro is a player of great quality," Fonte explained. "He had a difficult time [against Morocco], also because of the injury, but he was good in the first two games. [Up against] Amrabat it wasn't easy as he is a very good player, very physically strong.

"We've talked to Raphael about how he has to play against this type of player and it's all a learning process. We have already talked about how to defend these players who are strong with their backs to the goal and he will certainly improve in the future."

Such experiences combined with continual improvement can only help a reshaped Dortmund in the coming campaign. Starting 2018/19 afresh, the man with the superb first touch, excellent crossing and brilliant dribbling ability will be keen to find out what is expected of him under Favre when he returns for pre-season training with BVB. For now, the world is Raphael Guerreiro's oyster.

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