Real Mallorca and Barcelona, two teams ravaged by injuries and illness, served up a game to forget in front of 14,654 fans in the Son Moix on Sunday night. Mallorca’s defeat means we’ve now won only two games in five months. The only bright part of this dire encounter was that a game of football broke out in the last 10 minutes and a wonder one-handed save by Barcelona’s German goalkeeper Marc Ter Stegen prevented Jaume Costa’s point blank shot from going in. The game was peppered by petty fouls, mostly from a clinical Catalan side who, after they went ahead on the stroke of half time, parked the proverbial bus, running down the clock with their off-the-ball shenanigans.
Once again, as they seem to do every time they face Barcelona in Palma, Mallorca showed the visitors far too much respect, preferring to sit back and let the slick-passing Catalans take complete control of proceedings. I don’t think I’ve witnessed a worst first half home performance as bad as RCD Mallorca dished up on Sunday night. In the early stages Barcelona monopolised possession and Mallorca barely managed to get out of their own half.
The game lacked quality, action and looked to be heading for stalemate as half time approached. The unwanted Dutchman Luuk de Jong headed in a Mingueza cross which should have been saved by our ’keeper Manolo Reina. De Jong rose to head past the Mallorca ’keeper who had made things easier for the striker by coming for the cross, hesitating, and then slipping as he tried to back pedal – yet another catastrophic error from the captain. De Jong came close twice before he finally hit the target, smashing the ball against the post and then with a spectacular scissor kick which rattled the bar.
A truly terrible referee (rated Spain’s No. 1), Mateu Lahoz, blew for half time, missed by many fans who’d given up on what was being served up on the pitch for what was being served up on the hot dog stand ! The statistics at half time revealed the superiority of Barcelona who had 73% of the possession, completing 293 passes to our 85.
In the second half it was more of the same with Ter Stegen a spectator and the Barcelona team in their eye-catching violet ensembles looked on easy street. Mallorca seemed a spent force as they tried to muster some kind of attacking effort which all came to nothing. Then in the last 10 minutes Mallorca suddenly found another gear, helped by the introduction up front of Fer Niño and Abdon Prats. Barcelona were reduced to all sorts of skullduggery to break up what few attacks Mallorca had and the referee was beginning to lose control of the game. Our coach, Luis Garcia Plaza, used all five substitutes but no matter how much we huffed and puffed, Barcelona pulled out every dirty trick in the book, to run out 0-1 winners.
SUMMING UP : Guest of honour at the game was a Mallorca iconic striker, Samual Eto’o. He was there to unveil a huge mural of himself in the Son Moix car park. Another spectator was ex striker Aritz Arduriz who now lives on the island. It would have been brilliant to roll back the years and play these two up front on Sunday night. Our present attacking incumbent Angel is a good footballer with loads of experience but to play him on his own against tall defenders was just plain idiotic. Director of football Pablo Ortells must now do his job in the transfer window and give coach LGP what’s on his shopping list, starting with a striker and a goalkeeper. Ortells has been wrong with centre forwards in the last three consecutive transfer windows (Cardona, Alvaro Gimemez, Fer Niño and Hoppe), who have all been abject failures. Making another mistake in Ortells’s fourth transfer window dealings could see him lose his job.
Mallorca did nothing to beat an opponent who, despite playing a scratch side, were superior from start to finish, even without having many first choice regulars. On our present form it’s a miracle we’ve reached the halfway point in the season with 20 points. Having said all that, the game could have ended in a draw were it not for Ter Stegen’s “worldy” save near the end.
Barcelona’s transfer-listed striker Luuk de Jong changed the outcome with almost all of the game’s action happening inside a matter of minutes. Sometimes goals change games but this match continued to be instantly forgettable and to think some people without a season ticket could have paid 150 euros to watch this rubbish.
I never understand our tactics against these so-called big boys at home. They don’t like it up ’em. Let’s pick two strikers and give it a go; sitting back and inviting them to attack is tantamount to footballing suicide. We had no personality on Sunday night and the absence of Japanese star Take Kubo was palpable. Just a word about Barcelona coach and playing legend Xavi. Most managers when they take their places in the technical area are kitted out to look smart, e.g. a suit or tracksuit. A pair of denim ripped jeans is hardly becoming for a coach of one of the world’s top clubs.
We have a cup match away at Eibar on Wednesday at 4 pm then on Saturday we travel to Valencia to play bottom club Levante at 2 pm. The last time they won was 26 games ago, surely we won’t slip up there, will we ?