For years, Manchester United had one of the best right backs in football in the shape of Gary Neville.
Love him or loathe him, there is little doubt that he was one of the most consistent full backs that both United and England had during his career.
With him retiring and taking on a successful punditry role, Sir Alex Ferguson has placed his faith in Rafael, one of the young Brazilian twins uncovered by United’s scouts.
Arriving with his brother Fabio, the youngsters played bit parts to begin with but showed their promise from an early stage.
Rafael has come under criticism from some for his inexperience since becoming a regular part of the United back line.
Still young, he is learning with every game, and the experience he would have had in Madrid can only be of benefit to him.
Having put in a man of the match performance against Everton in United’s game before their trip to Madrid, Rafael again played his part in some dogged defending.
Although there is little doubt that with some maturity he will remain a regular at Old Trafford, he needs to learn his trade quickly if he is to be considered fully by his Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.
He has terrific pace and overlaps superbly, giving teams an extra man to cover when United go forward.
It is with his defensive abilities that most eyebrows are raised; against Madrid there were occasions where he was so eager to win the ball back he failed to stand his man up and make life difficult for them, and was beaten as a result.
Games like the one at Santiago Bernabeu will be a valuable learning experience for the young Brazilian as he looks to improve on his already brilliant qualities.
Rafael puts forward a good argument for a place within the Brazil squad but, with others preferred over him, must bide his time and continue to show the energy he has on the pitch.
He needs to mature and show better decision-making and better defensive qualities if he is to become a regular for his country.
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeFootball.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeFootball.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms