After a week when it looks like the UK needs a referendum to decide if they need a general election to decide if another referendum is needed to determine if the first referendum on the EU got it right?! – Real Mallorca face a tough game in the Son Moix tonight at 9 o’clock when they play second top Athletic Bilbao in round four of season 2019/20. Mallorca’s three internationals, Valjent, Trajkovski and Kubo, are all back after playing for their respective countries, so coach Vicente Moreno has more or less a full squad to pick from.
Kubo was the last one to return after playing 10 minutes for Japan against Myanmar (Burma) in a World Cup qualifier, which the Nippons won 0-2. Local fans are desperate to see Kubo have more game time but there’s a big chance he won’t take any part in tonight’s game due to his late arrival back and his lack of game preparation time. The outcome of tonight’s game will hinge on whether Mallorca can put away the chances they create. Ante Budimir needs to start hitting the target soon as we don’t want to fall into the bottom four this early in the season.
Moreno may not alter his normal starting XI very much against a team who’ve improved so much this season and have been enjoyable to watch. With the appointment of local coach Gaizka Garitano last Winter, At. Bilbao have been transformed. Garitano’s philosophy is “winning starts with defence” and they will be formidable opponents. In Iñaki Williams, they have the fastest striker in La Liga and also “take no prisoners” Raul Garcia is in the engine room. Having been to the old San Mames on a couple of occasions, the city of Bilbao sees club flags flying in every street. For 119 years, the only players to have slipped on the famous red and white shirts have been born from communities of the Basque country and Navarra in Spain and the Basque country in France. They are, alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona, one of only three sides never relegated from La Liga.
One player making the headlines tonight will be 38-year-old Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz, who’s retiring at the end of this season. Between 2008/10 he became an absolute legend at the Son Moix. Mallorca bought him for 5 million euros, money they didn’t have, paying the transfer fee off in instalments. In 69 appearances for us, he scored 23 goals but Mallorca were by now deep in administration and the payments dried up. A court case seemed pending as Bilbao wanted their money. The only way they could be paid and we could avoid a court scenario, was if we sold Aduriz to Valencia, which we did, for 4 million euros. Bilbao only received the last bit of their money two years ago. Aduriz is a regular visitor to Mallorca every summer and has property on the island. He was at the play off game against Deportivo on June 23. At some stage tonight the Son Moix crowd will rise to their feet to wish one of their favourite sons good luck in his retirement.
In other Mallorca news the club must pay 11 million euros to the Spanish treasury over the next few weeks. The amount was agreed in the club’s bankruptcy proceedings from a number of years ago. When Mallorca were in La Liga six years ago, they had to pay 3 million euros per season. When they were relegated that amount was drastically reduced. The amount would be updated again if Mallorca gained promotion. That has now happened so Mallorca must update the amount owed to the treasury to 11 million euros. The good news is that Mallorca have enough to meet the payment and the overall debt has now dropped to 7 million. The bad news is that such a debt has affected our salary limit. We’re now the club with the smallest budget (29 million euros) in this season’s La Liga.
There’s a new VAR system now in place in Las Rozas in Madrid. It’s now being provided by the British company “Hawkeye” which has been in operation at the Wimbledon tennis finals for many years. I’ve no doubt we’ll see it being used in the Son Moix before too long.
The Irish company Premier Sports confirmed on Tuesday the rights to show La Liga in the UK and Ireland across the next three seasons. Spain’s top flight football had not been scheduled to be shown in the UK or Ireland basically because La Liga bosses, as usual, were too greedy. All that was available was one free-to-air match on ITV4 per match day along with a late night highlights programme. That free match will now be switched to Free Sports – a sister channel of Premier Sports – while the excellent La Liga TV will be added to Sky TV with the games being broadcast across Premier Sports 1 and 2. The new service starts tonight with the Mallorca/At Bilbao fixture.
PS There’s a Palma Futsal game scheduled in the Son Moix sports centre at 7 pm tonight, so parking in that area could be a nightmare.