Real Mallorca's coach Luis Garcia Plaza

Real Mallorca's coach Luis Garcia Plaza.

28-11-2020MIQUEL A. BORRAS

Real Mallorca went top of La Liga SmartBank after Espanyol lost 2-0 to Leganes on Thursday night. It’s the first time we’ve led the Spanish second division since season 96/97 when the Palma side finished in third place then won promotion after beating Rayo Vallecano in a play off. We then stayed in La Liga for 16 years before going down in 2014.

With another avalanche of fixtures coming up only four points separate the top five teams with fifth-placed Almeria (on 26 with a game in hand) one of the four big-budget sides in the top five along with Espanyol, Leganes and Mallorca.

Leganes inflicted previous league leaders Espanyol’s second consecutive defeat the other night and looked impressive in doing so. However, the team that has shown the best form over the past few games are our opponents on Sunday at 6.15pm, Logroñes. They’ve won six games on the bounce and this will be the first time they’ve played in Palma for many years. The bookies are saying we have a 54% chance of winning, a draw is 26% and the odds on Logroñes picking up any away win – 20%.

Mallorca coach Luis Garcia Plaza has to pick his strongest starting XI in a game where we’ll have to play a lot better than on Wednesday when we beat Cartegena 1-2 thanks to two penalties. At his pre-match Zoom call, LGP said that we had to be wary of Logroñes who gained promotion from Segunda B earlier this year. He said they have strong players up top and their defence is unchanged from the side that did so well last term. They have two ex Mallorca goalkeepers in their squad tonight, Ruben Mino 2012/15 and their No. 1 Roberto Santamaria 2016/17.

There are several reasons why Mallorca are top of the league. Our solid defence have only conceded three goals in 14 games with 35-year-old goalkeeper Manolo Reina having a record-breaking renaissance season. Dani Rodriguez, Mallorca’s leading scorer from mid field has been a revelation this season with his six goals, and his box to box performances make him the first name on the team sheet.

Coach LGP’s rotation system where he has used 25 players has worked a treat and he hasn’t started with the same XI twice. New signings Galaretta and Antonio Sanchez have been a breath of fresh air with the latter able to play in several positions. Mallorca have turned into a team who are unbeaten on the road so far, three wins and four draws, something the last incumbent, Vicente Moreno, couldn’t do, winning only one on the road. LGP has also been the most popular communicator between the team and the media since Luis Aragones 20 years ago. It says a lot when even the most outspoken members of the local media have taken LGP on board.

With England hesitantly opening up grounds to supporters next week, La Liga president Javier Tebas confirmed plans to allow 3,000 fans to be permitted to return to stadiums in La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank. Tebas announced that the league will hold talks with the Spanish government in order to formulate an agreement that could see fans back in stadia across the country.

Tebas said “There are areas in Spain like the Canary Islands, the Balearics or Madrid where they are already in a position to accommodate fans right now, the government wants legislation for all of Spain but that is not possible.”

One of Real Mallorca’s favourite sons, Aritz Aduriz, has revealed that he has made a decision to live for a while on the island where he has “a small project” to “disconnect from what his life was like at At. Bilbao,” something that he considers that “in Bilbao” he would have more difficulties to achieve. Aduriz was a “cult figure” when he played here for two seasons (2008-10) where he scored 11 goals in the first season and 13 in the second. He’s always declared himself a great lover of the island and has property here. He sat in the stand when we won the promotion play off against Deportivo a year past June. Aduriz will turn 40 in February and has just recovered from hip replacement surgery that forced him to retire. He recently talked about how his life is doing outside of football, where he prioritises being with his family as the most important thing.

AND FINALLY, an up-to-date version of the 12 days of Christmas.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 sanitisers, 11 plastic visors, 10 pm curfew, 9 months in lockdown, 8 swab and test kits, 7 bloody face masks, 6 people only, 5 loo rolls, 4 isolations, 3 tier system, 2 metre distance and a useless track and trace app too.

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