Real Mallorca make the short trip over to the Valencia region where they’ll play 18th-placed Castellon tomorrow at 4 o’clock. It’s the first time in 28 years we’ve played them in a league game. At the weekly remote prematch press conference, coach Luis Garcia Plaza said that as a result of illness, suspension and injury, the squad will be missing five players.
Antonio Sanchez and Lago Junior failed a Covid test and will be out for at least two weeks. Amath and Sedlar have an accumulation of yellow cards and face a one-match suspension and Abdon Prats picked up an injury last game and won’t travel. That means we’re without our two leading scorers today.
Amath’s absence is a strange one. He had four yellows after our last game and then was given another during the week for displaying a political slogan “Free Senegal” on his T-shirt after scoring against Cartagena on March 7th !
LGP also said “It’s a big mistake for people to talk about us going up to La Liga when there are still eight games left, anything can happen and there are no easy fixtures.” Talking about this afternoon’s opponents, he was very respectful : “They have won four of their last eight games and are doing well and base their strength on defending close together. They’ve only lost twice in two months and I’m expecting a tough and complicated match.”
There’s no question a major turning point in the season took place last Sunday when Almeria surprisingly lost to Zaragoza 2-1. With leaders Espanyol on 70 and Mallorca on 68, both winning, we’ve opened up an eight point gap over Almeria. In addition, on Monday night most local fans will be glued to their TVs and social media devices to see if Espanyol can beat Almeria away which, providing we are victorious, would open up a seemingly unattainable 11 point gap.
Martin Valjent reaches a milestone today with his 100th game for the club. He’s turned into one of the best centre-backs in La Liga SmartBank as well as a firm favourite with the fans. Real Mallorca are strengthening their Covid-19 precautions during the final run in to an automatic promotion place and will carry on travelling by charter plane and doing PCR tests on players. After two of them, Antonio Sanchez and Lago Junior, tested positive the management are even more conscious of everything involved with Covid protocol.
The club is asking all players to take maximum precautions on leaving their football “bubble.” They have a daily antigen test prior to each training session, and in spite of La Liga distancing itself from having to make costly PCR tests to save money some weeks ago, the club is still carrying these out prior to each match.
Regarding flight costs, Mallorca will have to pay out around 60,000 euros for the five trips the team have to make to Castellon, Sabadell, Malaga, Tenerife and Ponferradina. La Liga doesn’t oblige clubs to charter flights and thereby avoids paying the differences which, up until now, were being charged. Mallorca says it’s imperative we carry on with private flights to avoid direct contact with people outside the “bubble.”
Prior to games, in hotels, the players continue sleeping in individual rooms and, during meals where up until now they were sitting at tables of four, they will now eat in pairs, but not with someone who plays in the same position. Diners will never sit directly opposite, but diagonally opposite one another. Mallorca have to steer clear of any more players becoming infected as about 50 million euros marks the difference between going up or staying another season in La Segunda.
Director of football Pablo Ortells is going to have a busy Summer if we finally reach La Liga. We would need at least 10 new players as the majority of the present side are simply not good enough to play at the next level. One player who’s likely to stay after coming here in January is 20-year-old At. Madrid loanee Victor Mollejo. The Toledo-born youngster who scored his first goal for Mallorca last weekend is considered to be one of the most promising young players in Spanish football and has already represented Spain several times at youth level. Mollejo is easily recognisable because of his lack of hair – since the age of nine he’s suffered from alopecia.
AND FINALLY, a nun went into a pub and asked if she could use their toilet. The place was rocking with loud music and noisy customers and, every once in a while, the lights would turn off. Every time the lights went out the bar erupted into cheers. However, when the revellers saw the nun, the bar went silent.
When the nun asked to use the toilet, the bartender replied “Of course you can sister, but I should warn you that in the toilet there is a statue of a naked man wearing only a fig leaf.” “Well,” said the nun, “in that case I’ll look the other way.” Five minutes later she came out of the toilet to a thunderous round of applause. Puzzled, she asked the bartender “I don’t understand, why are they applauding me just because I went to the toilet ?” “Well,” explained the bartender, “now they know you are one of us – would you like a little light refreshment ?” “I still don’t understand,” replied the nun, “How come I’m now one of them ?” The bartender laughed and said “Every time someone lifts the fig leaf on the statue, the lights go out !!”