• Champions League

'Mature' Rafael looking to oust Alves and Maicon

ESPN staff
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Rafael da Silva has sparkled for Manchester United this season © Getty Images
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Rafael da Silva believes he has matured as a player and has set his sights on representing Brazil in the World Cup in 2014.

The right-back, capped twice for his country, has cemented his place in the Manchester United defence this season. Always known for his attacking, he has scored twice and Rafael believes his understanding of the game has improved, leading others to view him in a different light.

"I think they look at me differently now," he said. "The way I play for United has changed a little bit and I have scored some goals as well. But mature is the word. I always want the ball. Now I read the game more and know what the opposing player is going to do."

The next World Cup will be held in his homeland and, while Rafael faces competition for a place from Dani Alves and Maicon, among others, he hopes to feature.

The 22-year-old added: "It is a big time for me. The World Cup is the big competition for Brazil and all the fans expect us to win. I am really looking forward to being there."

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Rafael is improving and has the makings of a great player. "He is maturing and learning all the time," the United manager said.

"Rafael has all the ingredients of a great player. He was quite impulsive and tended to over-commit himself. We have gone over it a few times but, bit by bit, it is coming together and he was easily our best player [on] Saturday."

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