After a week when I read “Arsenal’s interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg is a former underwear model so he’s used to working with a load of pants!” – Real Mallorca play La Liga leaders, and one of the best club sides in the world, the mighty Barcelona in their iconic Estadio Camp Nou tonight at 9 pm.
The last time we played there in April 2013, we were “gubbed” 5-0, and Lionel Messi didn’t even play that night!
This is one of the most challenging games of the season for us and it’s difficult to see any way Real Mallorca can salvage much from this game as our away form has been abject.
A friend of mine suggested the only way to beat the Catalan giants is to stop the service to Messi and not allow them to keep the ball all game as they will destroy you – easier said than done!
The good news for us is that the team is better than the one that was humiliated six years ago. Before the game, Messi will take to the pitch to show off his sixth Ballon D’Or trophy that he won on Tuesday.
The bad news for Mallorca is Lago Junior looks unlikely to feature as he still has hamstring problems. The good news is that Colombian striker Cucho Hernandez has been given the go ahead to start playing again by his parent club Watford. He picked up a hamstring injury (that later required surgery) playing for his country in an under 20 international competition last July. He played two more games, aggravating the injury, and suffered the consequences of a three-month lay-off.
It’s likely Cucho will be on the bench tonight and may play some part towards the end.
The last time he played in the Nou Camp was last December when he scored playing for Huesca in an 8-2 defeat!!
Also returning to Barcelona is Takefusa Kubo, Mallorca’s on-loan from Real Madrid “Japanese Messi.”
Eight years ago he was part of the famous La Masia youth academy at Barcelona then had to leave when they were sanctioned by FIFA over exploitation of underage players.
Now that Real Madrid are level on points at the top with Barcelona, it’s imperative they win tonight with the rearranged El Clasico on the horizon in 10 days.
Over six hundred Mallorquinistas will be at the match although where the away fans normally sit there’s no way they can make themselves heard seven floors up! To make matters worse there’s a security screen/net in front of the away fans to deter people from throwing projectiles on the unsuspecting hordes below.
I’ll never forget my trip to the Nou Camp six years ago. Before we took our seats (in the Gods, beside the big electronic scoreboard) our small group were the subject of an over zealous body search by a big, baldy numpty who made the jolly green giant look like a shrinking violet. One of our group who was in his seventies back then and was walking with the aid of a stick didn’t escape the “spread your legs” command from the Neanderthal. One of the other, “nicer” stewards commented that this big bully was “muy agresivo.”
When we finally found our seats after being revived by oxygen, our area was policed by Mosses d’Esquadra in full riot gear – tooled up – with several taser guns in view. Our small group were of middling to advanced years – hardly a simmering cocktail of violent hooligans!
Somebody asked me the other day if I was making the trip to tonight’s game. I replied that after the way we were treated back then I wouldn’t darken the Nou Camp’s doorstep ever again.
The odds are naturally stacked against us tonight. At home Barcelona are unbeaten, scoring 25 goals with seven against. Away from home, Mallorca have scored three and conceded 14. Our salary cap is 29 million euros, Barcelona’s an eye-watering 671 million!
An exciting rumour was set loose on Twitter earlier in the week, saying that Mallorca could be interested in bringing in Real Madrid’s third-choice striker, Mariano, who’s slipped down the Santiago Bernabeu pecking order.
He’s hardly kicked a ball all season and although his wages could be out of our reach, it’s still an interesting idea. He had his best season on loan at Lyon last term when he scored 18 goals.
PS Mallorca will play their one-legged Copa del Rey match away against Madrid minnows El Alamo at 18:30 on December 18, just before El Clasico.