Real Mallorca’s stand-in centre back Franco Russo

Real Mallorca’s stand-in centre back Franco Russo.

01-11-2020CARLOS GIL

Real Mallorca make the short trip over the water to Girona on match day 12 of this topsy turvy season in La Liga SmartBank, kick off Saturday 18:30. The Palma side are second top on 22 points, four behind leaders Espanyol and seven ahead of tonight’s opponents who have played a game less. They salvaged a point last Monday night, drawing 1-1 at home against Las Palmas.

Mallorca will be without three players, all of them – Martin Valjent, Lago Junior and Akelsander Trajkovski – are away playing for Slovakia, Ivory Coast and North Macedonia, respectively. On Thursday night both Slovakia and North Macedonia qualified for the Euros next year.

We’ve played in the Montilivi three times since 2017, losing two and drawing one. The main change tonight will be at centre back where the Argentinian Franco Russo will deputise for Valjent. Russo made over 30 appearances last season on loan at Ponferradina and will be keen to keep up our brilliant defensive record of being unbeaten in our last 10 games and having conceded only twice. Mallorca are the only side in the top two Spanish leagues to be unbeaten on the road and keeping clean sheets – five games, three draws with no goals conceded, and two wins.

We must start as favourites with Girona missing several regulars especially their Uruguayan striker and ex Middlesbrough player Cristhian Stuani who scored 29 goals last season. He’s missed most of this campaign through injury and his continued absence is a major blow for the Catalan side.

The controversy raised after last Sunday’s game with regard to five guests (authorised by La Liga) being allowed to sit in the directors’ box and watch the match continues to generate all kinds of negative reaction on social media. Fans are angry and for good reason. The president of the Mallorca council, the mayor of Palma and representatives from three of our sponsors had the privilege of watching the game, much to the chagrin of season ticket fans, some of them (me included), being long-time subscribers to the club’s coffers. The president of the club’s peñas (supporters clubs) described the episode as imprudence from La Liga for authorising institutions and sponsors to enter. He went on to say “We haven’t had a single meeting with club officials for five months.” He also reiterated my bugbear that if a thousand fans are authorised to enter grounds in the local Segunda B and Third division then surely an adequate number should be able to watch a professional game in the Son Moix.

JOY AND TEARS: Two years ago a storm of biblical proportions all but wiped away the town of Sant Llorenc. Lives were tragically lost and the damage done was described as incalculable. Back then there were tears of grief, sadness and despair. Fast forward two years to last Wednesday night when there were more tears shed, this time they were joyous. The reason ? Tiny Cardassar, the town’s third division football team, had managed to qualify to play in the Copa del Rey and will play host to a La Liga side on December 16-ish ! The draw will be made on Monday and any La Liga side could play except Real Madrid, Barcelona, At. Madrid and Real Sociedad, who are taking part in the Spanish Super Cup.

On Wednesday night Cardassar beat Zaragoza-based side Epila 4-3 on penalties after it was goalless after 120 minutes. The visitors were reduced to nine men by the time the harrowing penalty shoot-out came along. Without a shadow of a doubt it was a huge reward for a club that, along with the town it’s from, made headlines all over the world. Two years ago the artificial pitch and all the club’s amenities were swept away in the catastrophe. There was a “benefit” game played in the Son Moix after the storm as a fund-raiser in which Real Mallorca played a team of players born on the Balearic islands. On Wednesday three hundred fans sat socially distanced in the small El Moleter stand to enjoy a historic night. Locals will be on tenterhooks on Monday watching and listening to which of the big boys will be coming to play the minnows of Cardassar. They are now considering putting in extra seating.

AND FINALLY, walking through the forest is a yellow toad who’s not very happy because he doesn’t want to be yellow. Life would be easier if he was brown or green like the other toads and he’d be less visible to predators. On his travels the yellow toad bumps into a Fairy Godmother and he begs her “Fairy Godmother, please make me green like the other toads. I am tired of being visible to predators and such.” The Fairy Godmother waves her magic wand, saying “Abracapocus – you’re now green.”

The toad looks down and sees that indeed he is green but his package is still yellow. He says “Fairy Godmother, I’m green but my meat and two veg are still yellow?” She replies “I don’t do willies, go and see the Wizard of Oz for that.”

Off hops the toad to see the Wizard of Oz. There is also a purple bear wandering around the forest and he too comes across the Fairy Godmother. The bear implores her “Please make me brown like all the other bears, none of the lady bears wants to be seen with me.” The Fairy Godmother waves her wand and the bear turns brown. However, his wedding tackle is still purple. The bear says to her “What about my twig and berries, they’re still purple?” She tells him “I don’t do genitalia, you will have to see the Wizard of Oz for that.” “Well that’s just great, and how do I find this Wizard of Oz?” asks the bear. The Fairy Godmother answers “Easy, just follow the yellow-pr*ck toad!”

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