Barcelona clash,

After a week when the England cricket team officially beat the Wuhan street market for the worst use of a bat – ever ! – Real Mallorca, following a week of uncertainty due to the wave of Coronavirus that is sweeping the globe, reach the halfway point of the 2021/22 La Liga season tomorrow night (Sunday) at 9 pm when they play an ailing Barcelona in the Son Moix.

Due to Covid infections (which are affecting more than 200 Spanish football players across the first and second divisions), the Ministry of Health of the Balearic Government announced that a maximum of 75% of the stadium capacity will be allowed in for the game, which guarantees access for our 15,000 season ticket holders. The capacity limitation will prevent a full house and means the club will lose 500,000 euros in lost ticket sales.

Mallorca have four players missing tonight with Covid symptoms and as usual the club haven’t said who these players are. Teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid continue to disclose the names of infected players but, for some reason, Mallorca don’t and have a paranoia of secrecy. However, players missing from training during the week, allegedly, have been Kubo, Salva Sevilla, Angel and Galarreta – the backbone of the team. If that sounds bad, it’s nothing compared to tonight’s visitors. Barcelona have 10 players who’ve tested positive for the virus, plus four missing through injury. Busquets is suspended and new signing Ferran Torres from Manchester City won’t have his registration to play in place until Monday. That leaves Ter Stegen, Araujo, Pique, Eric Garcia, Mingueza, Frenkie de Jong, Riqui Puig and Luuk de Jong who are able to play. La Liga’s new Covid protocol endorsed by all clubs explains that a match will only be postponed when a team cannot present more than five professional players and has less than 13 between them and part-time players.

There’s never been a better opportunity for Real Mallorca to beat Barcelona (who’ve been described recently as the worst Barça side in 25 years) in Palma, something that hasn’t happened since 2009. After our poor second half showing away at Granada before Christmas (4-1), coach Luis Garcia Plaza would like nothing better than to start the New Year off by scoring a prestigious triumph tonight.

Under the tutelage of Xavi Hernandez, who took over the coaching reins at the Nou Camp a couple of months ago, Barcelona are breathing with new life and optimism after a couple of years of beleaguered pessimism, and are getting their DNA back. Once again the Catalan giants are relying on their La Masia youngsters to get them through their present crisis. Many would agree that if the club’s finances weren’t in meltdown the youngsters would be struggling to break through into the “big time.” Previous regimes have gambled on multimillion euro transfers (like Coutinho – a flop) rather than give youth a chance. The present regime, led by president Juan Laporta and ex Mallorca owner/president Mateu Alemany (from Andratx), have had little choice but to go with the kids. After I watched them the other week these kids look awesome and I’ve no doubt Barcelona will be back in a couple of years to their best. One of these kids is the 17-year-old Gavi who plays football with his bootlaces loose. Fans have speculated over whether he has a bizarre superstition or pre-match ritual which involves his laces being undone. It turns out there’s an easy explanation – Gavi simply doesn’t know how to lace up his boots !

GRACIAS LAGO: Mallorca’s director of football, Pablo Ortells, is now working on bringing in reinforcements, which means some squad members will have to be moved on. One player who’s already left on loan is one of our longest-serving players, Lago Junior, who’s joined La Segunda side Huesca, coached by ex Watford boss Xavi Munoz from Manacor. He arrived at the Son Moix in January 2016, being signed from Mirandes by then CEO Maheta Molango. The Ivorian was a fans’ favourite in his five years in Palma, and scored 37 goals. It’s likely Lago, who will turn 31 soon, will be signed by Huesca next Summer and we’ll never see him pull on a Mallorca shirt again. He was a player who never got upset and behaved like a true professional. I could count on one hand the number of bad games he had, always giving 100% to RCD Mallorca’s cause. His highlight strike for me was his winning goal at home to Real Madrid three years ago. Bon sort, Lago.

PS Mystic Monro’s look into the footballing crystal ball for 2022 sees Scotland qualify for the World Cup. However, their participation doesn’t go according to plan when all the squad get sunstroke getting off the plane on arrival in Qatar !

AND FINALLY, a woman is walking home with her three daughters. The eldest one turns to her and asks “Mummy, how did I get my name ?” “Well, sweetie,” the mother replies, “when we were bringing you home from the hospital a rose petal landed on your head, so that’s why we named you Rose.” The second daughter, now curious, asks the same question. “Well, darling, when we were bringing you home from the hospital a lily petal landed on your head, so that’s why we named you Lily.” The third daughter asks “HHGHGN DDDDNBHGBH ?!” The mother tells her “Shhhh, quiet now Breeze-block !”