Real Mallorca fly to Madrid today where they’ll play game 31 in La Liga SmartBank 2020/21 Monday at 21:00 against Fuenlabrada. They lie 13th in the table and are now coached by ex Mallorca boss Jose Luis Oltra who was here back in 2013/14.
Real Mallorca’s coach Luis Garcia Plaza, in the early part of the season, used a constant rotation system because of the number of games being squeezed into a short period of time.
In January after Fuenlabrada knocked us out of the Copa del Rey on penalties some kind of normality returned.
Three months later the accumulation of games played in just a few days has returned with a vengeance. After Monday we play Leganes in Palma on Thursday then 72 hours later we’re away at Las Palmas on Sunday April 4 at 20:30 hrs.
For whatever reason, Real Mallorca are the only side in the second division to play three matches in a week, a situation that has annoyed the normally laid-back Mallorca coach.
It’s bad enough playing these three games close together and the situation is made worse by Mallorca misfiring after a win, a defeat and a goal-less draw.
Second-placed Espanyol joined us at the top of the table with 61 points after they comfortably beat Castellon 1-3 on Friday night.
They have a better goal difference than us so a win for Mallorca would see us regain top spot and go three points ahead.
We’ve managed to stay top of the league as the teams below us have been dropping points as well. The question is : are Mallorca having a blip, a bump in the automatic promotion road, or worryingly is it something more serious taking place at precisely the wrong time ?
Our biggest problem over the past three weeks is our lack of goals. Up until last weekend we’d scored 39, second placed Espanyol have netted 49, and third-placed Almeria 44.
At the other end we continue to have the league’s best defensive, conceding just 16, five less than Espanyol – 21.
With a tight fixture list, coach LGP must now turn to his bench and bring back rotations and the players who’ve been “bit parts” in the squad must now step up and be counted.
Amath (who’s injured) is our top scorer with just eight goals, Abdon Prats has seven, with mid-fielders Salva Sevilla and Dani Rodriguez netting six each.
In comparison other promotion contenders are scoring for fun. Espanyol’s Raul de Tomas has 16, fifth-placed Sporting Gijon striker Djurdjevic has 20 and even midfield obscurity side Cartagena have a 40 year-old striker Ruben Castro who’s hit the net 13 times.
Monday night’s game sees three squad players missing because of international commitments. Martin Valjent is away with Slovakia, Aleksander Trajkowski scored for North Macedonia on Thursday and the ostracised Lago Junior was called up by the Ivory Coast.
One piece of good news is that midfielder Iddrisu Baba hasn’t travelled to play for Ghana because of Covid quarantine restrictions.
Team news for the Fuenlabrada game should see the return of Galaretta after being out for a month with a thigh muscle tear.
The Basque player is a vital cog in midfield and he’s been sorely missed. Alongside him, the stalwart Salva Sevilla put pen to paper last week on a year long contract extension.
He’s become a Mallorca legend in the three years he’s been here and is the glue that holds the team together. It’s important Mallorca get their mojo back quickly as time and games are running out with just 11 left after Monday.
The team have been joined by club president Andy Kohlberg who flew into Palma from the USA last weekend just in time to sit through our 0-0 Son Moix snooze-fest !
He’s expected to be at the Fuenlabrada, Leganes and Las Palmas games. One of the things he may be involved with is finding a new shirt sponsor for next season, as betting companies (Mallorca’s is Betfred) won’t be allowed to sponsor any team in Spain’s top two divisions. There are at least ten sides who have the same issue.
PS Condolences to Julie Rothera and her husband Peter. Julie’s the sister of Frank Worthington, one of football’s greats who passed away last week.
Julie and Peter were Real Mallorca season ticket holders and we met up regularly before and after home games. They relocated to the UK earlier this year but still watch Mallorca play on You Tube.
AND FINALLY, one day while out jogging, a middle-aged man noticed two brand new tennis balls lying by the side of the road. He picked them up, put them in his pocket and carried on jogging.
Waiting at traffic lights, he noticed an attractive young lady standing next to him smiling. “What are those big bulges in your running shorts ?” she enquired. “Tennis balls,” he replied. “Wow,” said the young lady, “that must really hurt. I once had tennis elbow and the pain was unbearable !!”
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