Real Mallorca put their Champions League celebrations behind them and get down to the serious business of league action tonight when they host Las Palmas in the opening game of the season. Whilst Fernando Vazquez's Las Palmas side have had the summer to prepare for Mallorca, the islanders' attention has only just turned to La Liga after a hectic two weeks qualifying for Europe's elite tournament. We must take the next few weeks calmly, warned Mallorca midfielder Vicente Engonga. The best way to end an historic week such as this would be for us to beat Las Palmas, he added. Engonga should start in tonight's match after recovering from a slight muscle strain with manager Bernd Krauss keeping the same eleven that beat Hajduk Split 2-0 in last Tuesday's thrilling Champions League qualifier. Creative midfielder Ariel Ibagaza is also carrying an injury, but is expected to recover in time for tonight's match, while new Turkish signing Fatih Akyel starts on the bench and could see his league debut. Krauss's only big worry will be that his team focus on beating Las Palmas and are not caught daydreaming about future European glories. We have qualified for the Champions League, but it's now time to start the league with a win so that we don't have problems in future weeks, said Krauss yesterday. Mallorca would be unwise to take Las Palmas lightly. The team, who beat Mallorca in the Canaries last season, are capable of the upset at Son Moix, especially as Vazquez knows Mallorca's strengths and weaknesses well. Vazquez was coach at Son Moix for the 1999/2000 season and has many special memories from his time at the club, including big wins over Ajax and Monaco in a UEFA Cup campaign that reached the last eight. He also has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way the Mallorca board discarded him after a reasonably successful season, and would love to start his season with a victory over his old team. Vazquez said on Friday that Las Palmas has a real chance of beating Mallorca and his team were not coming to the island simply to play for a draw. I expect us to have a good game, although obviously we're not going to be perfect seeing as it's the first match of the season, said Vazquez. Mallorca don't use the wings as much as when they had (Jovan) Stankovic and Lauren, but in Ibagaza they have a great midfielder whose clever passes make it very dangerous for us with the two strikers they've got. The Las Palmas midfield is led by former Tottenham and Everton midfielder Vinny Samways, now in his sixth season with the Canary island club, and always worth a yellow card or two. After losing their highly rated young striker Antonio Guayre to Villarreal, Vazquez will be hoping his speedy winger Pablo Lago can supply some service for veteran front man Orlando Saurez.
Mallorca focus on Las Palmas
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