From the outside looking in, Rosana would appear to be in an ideal situation. After all, it is not every player who can point to being an integral part of the Brazilian national team as well as on the books of French side Lyon, the UEFA Women’s Champions League holders.
Rather than rest on her laurels with what she has achieved so far, however, the 29-year-old told FIFA.com that she remains under unrelenting pressure to perform for both club and country. Indeed, though her mission with A Amarelinha and Lyon are ostensibly the same – winning every competition they enter – Rosana and her Brazil colleagues also face a fierce battle to further the cause of the women’s game in a nation used to serial success from the men’s Seleção.
And though well-established in the national team set-up, such is the competition for places at Lyon that the gifted attacking midfielder has yet to nail down a starting berth. “It might seem easy playing for the European club champions, but there’s a huge amount of pressure here,” she said.
“You need to fight really hard to earn a place in the first XI because the standard is incredibly high. With A Seleção it’s a different kind of pressure, but we’re all used to it now. We always need to try and pick up emphatic results so that we can try and change the way the women’s game is perceived in Brazil.
“At Lyon and in France the foundations have been laid, while the women’s game seems better established here,” Rosana continued. “So, the pressure is more about justifying the investment the club have made. The bonus is that they've put a structure in place so you can focus on playing, without having to worry about anything else.”
What's more, the Sao Paulo state native was aware that touching down at a European heavyweight such as Lyon, particularly with the 2011/12 season already underway, was going to be a challenge – even for a player used to receiving plaudits aplenty while on Brazil duty. While she had followed the progress of France, who finished fourth at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, Rosana was still pleasantly surprised by the sheer talent of her new team-mates.
“Having watched France at the World Cup I was curious to find out how they’d managed to progress so much. And it didn’t take me long at all to realise that the standard here is incredibly high,” said a player known for her versatility.
“Besides which, because most of the Lyon players are internationals, I didn’t come here with a guaranteed starting place. It’s good that the coach [Patrice Lair] has a great squad to choose from, as he ends up rotating quite a lot. But I think that, thanks to my physical presence, I fit in well in the European game.”
Signed in September 2011, Rosana initially had to make do with a place on the bench, though she has gradually worked her way into coach Lair’s plans. Currently alternating between a starting berth and a role as an impact sub, Rosana has still managed to fire three league goals so far this campaign, including the winner in a 1-0 victory over high-flying Montpellier on Matchday 13.
Ever more at home with the French powerhouse, despite continuing struggles with the language barrier, Rosana’s anxiety levels rise when it comes to discussing Brazil’s quarter-final exit at Germany 2011. Leading eventual beaten finalists USA 2-1 going into the dying seconds of extra time, A Seleção allowed Abby Wambach to notch a last-gasp equaliser before heroics from Stars and Stripes’ keeper Hope Solo helped decide the ensuing shoot-out.
“Of course that early exit still really hurts, particularly because of the way it came about,” said Rosana. “But I still think that Brazil have the ability to always be in the final three and challenge for trophies. We’ve got a huge amount of talent in our side, which is made clear whenever our players go off to play abroad.
“Results-wise we went backwards," says Rosana, in reference to Brazil reaching the Final at China 2007. "But I think that we're still always capable of getting onto the podium. That’s because we’ve got a set of very different players who end up all gelling together as a squad. That’s a unique and very curious quality.”
Fortunately for Rosana, she can console herself with the memories of flowing moves produced alongside the likes of Marta and Cristiane at Germany 2011, as well as having plenty of footballing challenges to get her teeth into over the coming months. For Lyon, the decisive stages of the French championship and Women’s Champions League are fast approaching, while Brazil play in a friendly tournament in April also featuring world champions Japan and USA.
“That’s going to be good preparation for the Olympics. There’s always a need to play friendlies against top-level sides. It’s perhaps something we could have done with before the last World Cup,” said the Brazil No6, keeping one eye on the Women's Olympic Football Tournament, which kicks off on 25 July.
“Before that though I want to win every competition I’m in with Lyon. That way, come July, my confidence will be really high in London. And who's to say we can’t win the gold medal?”