After a week when a friend of a friend, during the Black Friday sales, gave his wife an early Christmas present after he’d asked her what she wanted – she told him “Just get me something that will make my face light up when I open it,” so he bought her a new fridge! – Real Mallorca play their last home game of 2021 tonight in Son Moix at 9 pm against Celta Vigo who are three points behind us (16) in La Liga Santander.
The Palma side had a totally unexpected but stunning 1-2 win at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday with the three points won worth their weight in gold. With 19 points in the bag, we took a giant step towards our objective this season – staying in top flight Spanish football.
Two games remain in the year, both against teams below us in the standings, Celta and Granada (away).
Ideally before the end of the year we want to exceed 20 points before the halfway stage against (car-crash side) Barcelona in Palma on January 2, 2022, kick-off 9 pm), which would mean we would be halfway to 40 points plus which could see us probably safe for next season.
It’s amazing what a surprise win does for a team’s morale and it’s been a happy training ground this week, but coach Luis Garcia Plaza has played down the euphoria telling everybody not to get too carried away.
For tonight’s game I don’t expect many changes from last weekend although Take Kubo could well start in place of Antonio Sanchez who’s been disappointing in the last couple of games.
It was reported on social media earlier in the week that there was an important meeting in Madrid last weekend between club president Andy Kohlberg (who’s flown in from the US) and our two main guys in Palma, CEO Alfonso Diaz and sporting director Pablo Ortells. One of the main subjects discussed allegedly is the signing of a centre forward in the January transfer window.
It’s also possible that there’ll be another two or three new arrivals but a No. 9 is priority. We need someone who can start from day one without the need to undergo any adaptation period.
A mazingly without a recognised goal scorer, we’ve managed to score 16 goals with 12 different players hitting the net. Last weekend’s scorers, Russo and Kubo, were the last two to join the list in which nobody stands out but which includes practically half our squad. Three players, Dani Rodriguez, Fer Niño and Angel Rodriguez have scored twice with Angel scoring twice more in the Copa del Rey.
The first to open our scoring this season was Olivan against Betis on the opening day. Another full back, Maffeo, headed in a late equaliser against Elche with Russo scoring against Atletico.
In the centre of the pitch Baba scored against Cadiz and Salva Sevilla slotted home a penalty versus Elche. Down the flanks we’ve had goals from Antonio Sanchez (Sevilla), Take Kubo (Atletico), Dani Rodriguez (Espanyol and Osasuna) and Kang In Lee (Real Madrid).
Up front Abdon scored at Rayo joining Fer Niño and Angel (with two each) plus an own goal at Valencia by their defender Diakhaby. There’s no doubt a great goalscorer wins game and a lack of an out-and-out attacker can prove a stumbling block the longer the season goes on.
Credit has to be given to LGP who got team selections and substitutions spot on last Saturday after a win-less couple of months.
Three consecutive defeats at San Mames, Santiago Bernabeu and Real Sociedad’s Reale Arena followed by two controversial draws at Valencia and Cadiz raised doubts that Mallorca were good enough to compete at this level. A terrible exhibition at Rayo Vallecano didn’t help our cause, but the win at Atletico Madrid has been therapeutic and put a spark of optimism back on the menu.
It’s looking highly likely that Real Madrid can win the La Liga title back from Atletico Madrid before Christmas, which would mean that there would likely be a lot of strange results in the second half of the season as some of the other “big” teams in La Liga will no longer have to fight to be champions.
One player I have to mention this week is our Argentinian centre back Franco Russo whose equaliser in the Wanda saw his fortunes change dramatically. Since regular centre half Antonio Raillo is out injured for some time, Russo has had some big boots to fill and after a shaky start he’s turned in some top performances.
All the doubts and nerves surrounding his performances vanished on Saturday night as alongside Martin Valjent, they had the Atletico attacking trident of Griezmann, Correa and Cunha well under control. Russo has now got the credentials to be a regular starter in La Primera. He received a tweet from our former CEO Maheta Molango (now the chief executive of the PFA for England and Wales) in which he congratulated Franco on his “perseverance and dedication.”
PS After watching all the shenanigans that went on towards the end of the Porto/At. Madrid Champions League game it’s high time all delayed dives should be punished by a red card. Also the referee who takes charge of Atletico’s next game in the competition needs to demand danger money !!
AND FINALLY, candidate for worst joke of 2021:
A man with a terrible stammer went to see the stammering doctor who asked him “Is your stuttering getting better with those breathing exercises I gave you ?” The man replied “It’s b-b-b-b-b-better thanks but my Dad still calls me d-d-d-d-d-donkey.” “Why does he call you donkey ?” the doctor enquired. “No idea,” said the man, “but he-aw-he-aw-he-aw he always calls me that!!”