Mallorca’s coach takes training. | P. PELLICER


After a week when John Travolta was hospitalised with suspected Covid-19 symptoms – doctors later confirmed it was only “Saturday night fever” and they assured all his fans that he is Staying alive, apparently he had “Chills that were multiplying”! – Real Mallorca coach Luis Garcia Plaza is facing a major injury problem ahead of tomorrow’s 2 pm kick off game in the Son Moix against last season’s Europa League winners Villareal.

Three of our central defenders, Russo, Sedlar and Raillo, plus midfielder Galarreta and striker Angel, are all definitely out of contention for the game as LGP has to shuffle his pack and pick an “emergency” centre back.

The only fit starter at the heart of the defence today is Martin Valjent and he’s likely to play alongside one of – Maffeo (who’s played there when he was at Manchester City), Baba, the Argentinian Rodrigo Battaglia, or B team youngster Josep Gaya. My money’s on Maffeo to fill the role with Joan Sastre coming in at right back.

Serbian Aleksandar Sedlar has a serious knee ligament problem, Russo has a calf muscle strain and won’t be back until we play at home to Osasuna next Sunday and Raillo’s return is not expected until at least another three weeks.

The power house central defender suffered a strong blow to the ankle pre-season in France that was originally diagnosed as an ankle sprain. After an MRI scan the diagnosis now is a chipped ankle bone and although Raillo wants to play through the pain barrier the club’s medical team have said “No” as it may delay his return to full fitness.

Midfield “string puller in chief” Galarreta was injured in training on Tuesday and has been left out as a precautionary measure with a midweek game against Real Madrid on the horizon on Wednesday. The fifth absentee is Angel Rodriguez.

The 32-year-old striker has been seen on the training ground but is not expected back in the squad this month.

“Silver Fox” Salva Sevilla will take Galarreta’s place in midfield with coach LGP not ruling out the introduction of B team member Josep Gaya, in the next two games.

Villareal (or as they’re nicknamed “The Yellow Submarine”) have long been adversaries of ours. LGP will today face the last club he coached in the Primera before being promoted with Mallorca. He was recruited by Villareal at the end of 2018 to replace Javi Calleja (now at Alaves) but after only six games, before he had a chance to hang his jacket properly on the shoogly (shaky) peg, he was sacked after just six games (four draws and two defeats) to be replaced by the returning Calleja.

LGP returned to Chinese football before trying his luck in Saudi Arabia. Today LGP, for the first time after that surreal chapter, will come up against his old (if brief) club. In five clashes with them when he was at Levante and Getafe he won five games and lost one.

Another ex Villareal player who will attract a lot of media this afternoon is Take Kubo who played a part of last season on loan at La Ceramica stadium. Villareal coach Unai Emery only gave him 300 minutes of playing time so Take moved on to Getafe. He’ll definitely have a point to prove tomorrow.

Villareal have two players with strong RCD Mallorca connections. Striker Gerard Moreno played here in the second division 2013/14 and the Ecuadorian Peris Estupinan was part of our promotion team in 2019. Many Mallorca fans still dislike Villareal. In 2010 we qualified for the Europa League but because we had entered administration, Villareal denounced us and took our place.

Since then for about seven or eight years both clubs were locked in perennial confrontation although the continuous transfer of players especially from us continued unabated. Fortunately that morbid rivalry has faded over time but many Mallorquinistas have long memories – expect some booing today.

Tomorrow and next Sunday we’re only allowed 50% in the Son Moix and many fans are getting upset about the situation. The controversial “sorteo” method of giving out tickets with odd numbers one week and even the next has not gone down well. Mallorca fought tooth and nail to allow 60% (just over 13,000) into the Son Moix.

The club were convinced that for tomorrow and next Sunday’s game against Osasuna that figure would be allowed but because of the stagnation of the vaccination rate, the Balearic health executive prefers to wait until September 27.

That’s meant, together with the 2 pm time slot unpopular with some, and in the face of demand for tickets, that many Mallorca fans have gone on online to try and sell their match day tickets for prices ranging between 70 and 80 euros, which is illegal. The fact is that Mallorca’s hands are tied and they can’t offer any tickets for sale due to the capacity limit to which it is subjected by sanitary restrictions. Since these crowd restrictions began, several La Liga clubs have identified this type of fraudulent activity and are taking legal action.

AND FINALLY, An East End gangster has just come out of prison and is sitting in a pub with his missus. She says “Babes, I was walking past the jewellers and saw this beautiful diamond watch. It would look lovely on my wrist.” “Okay darling,” he replies, “but you’ll have to wait until it’s dark.” Later that night he goes to the jewellers, puts a brick through the window, grabs the watch and gives it to his missus. She gives him a big kiss.

The next day they’re back in the pub again. “Babes, I was walking past that new designer boutique in the High Street today and in their window was this gorgeous fur coat.” Again he says she’ll have to wait until it’s dark.

Later that evening he goes to the boutique and lobs another brick through the window, grabs the coat and gives it to his wife. She gives him another big kiss. “Now all I want is a handbag and a pair of shoes to match.” He replies “Hang on a minute, sweet cheeks, do you think I’m made of bricks?!”