It's been a difficult month for Rafael Cabral. A couple of mistakes, most notably a mis-read shot that lead to Palermo's first goal, saw him hit the bench for two straight matches for the first time since he was injured a year ago, and he's had to endure being at the short end of a harshly shifting narrative in the media and fanbase.
Suddenly, Rafael wasn't a promising goalkeeper who's very good now and with an even brighter future, but an incompetent twit who trips over his feed every time he blinks. It was immensely unfair for him to be treated like that, but hopefully after his solid performance against Trabzonspor on Thursday, he can start working on bringing the narrative back around.
Rafa Benitez certainly thinks so. "It was also important for Rafael to play [against Trabzonspor] and not concede," the manager told the press after Thursday's match. "He proved his quality. Now both he and Mariano Andujar have a 50-50 chance of starting against Torino."
This comes in the wake of vague - and unconfirmed - reports that the dressing room had more or less demanded that Andujar continues in goal, but it seems as though Rafa is willing to override that desire, should it truly exist, if he feels it's for the good of the team.
Rafael has had a bit of a downturn in form, but it's unquestionable that he's a better overall 'keeper than Andujar, especially since the Argentine has yet to particularly impress this season. Rafael is the stronger player on distribution and commanding his area, and both have had issues at times with shot-stopping, though Rafael is capable of more difficult saves. He's also got the much brighter future ahead of him, so let's please not do anything to risk screwing that up, shall we?