Press conference

Rafaelle: 'These are the games I like the most'

Rafaelle is eager to get back on the pitch at Emirates Stadium ahead of tonight's UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, our Brazilian defender reflected that last week's clash at Allianz Arena was the tough game she had been anticipating. 

“The first leg was amazing, especially in front of the crowd in a nice stadium," Rafaelle said. "I knew it was going to be a hard game and we know the German teams are always difficult. We have to be tough, German teams are always very good physically and we have to be stronger than them and win the little battles.

“We know it’s going to be a hard game and we cannot make any big mistakes. I feel like we have a great team and we feel ready. We know it can go either way so we have to make sure we don’t make big mistakes.

“We’ve had a good week of training and I think the whole team had a feeling after the game in Germany last week that we can beat them. We feel really well prepared for the match."

As tonight's game hangs in the balance, Rafaelle admitted she relishes these opportunities to prove herself on a big stage, especially as a defender. 

“These are the games I like the most. When you play easy games, the back four are not the ones who are on the stage. These are the hard games where you show the world how good you are.

“When you play against good teams and forwards, you get to show how you defend and battle. Winning those little battles shows everyone and maybe it brings you a good result too.”

For Rafaelle, who spent six years in the Chinese Women's Super League, visibility was a key motivator that brought her to north London last year, 

"I wanted people to see my football. I know my potential, I've played in the Brazilian national team for so many years and I know how I can help the team. I want to play as much as I can and help my team get through to the next round."

Our Brazilian also paid tribute to Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, who have both been sidelined through ACL injuries since last year. Despite the pair's absence from the pitch, their presence is still continually felt as true members of our squad. 

“We have two extra players because they are always with us. We see them at training every day and we see how much they want to be in the team. We have to play our best for them because they are part of this team and they are two big legends at this club they deserve to be part of this."

A UK-record UEFA Women's Champions League attendance awaits our Gunners at Emirates Stadium and Rafaelle believes the support can drive us on to victory.

“It’s amazing - I'm so happy to see so many supporters at the games. As a player, it’s so much better to play with this support. It’s like having an extra player in our team. I think Bayern had this last week, though we had a big crowd of travelling Arsenal fans too.

“We have a good chance in the league too but right now the focus is on Bayern and the Champions League. We’re going to need everyone, including the supporters.

“Playing at the Emirates is such a big stage for us. We’ve got the squad and the skills. We just need to work hard to make it happen. We are going to enjoy it and with that extra player, we can do it.” 

To watch Rafaelle's press conference in full, click the play button above.

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