What do you think will happen tomorrow? | R.D.

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After a week when the UK has come down really hard on Russia – if they don’t withdraw from the Ukraine by Monday, they won’t be allowed in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, that’ll show them! – Real Mallorca play three games in nine days starting with Valencia tomorrow in the Son Moix at 14:00 hrs. On Wednesday it’s another home fixture against Real Sociedad at 21:00, and next Sunday we’re away at Celta Vigo, with an 18:30 start.

There was some bad injury news on Monday when it was confirmed that 28-year-old Basque midfielder Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta will be out of action until next season after he ruptured his left knee cruciate ligament (the third time in his career he’s done so) in last Sunday’s 2-1 defeat away at Real Betis.

He was a vital part in coach Luis Garcia Plaza’s midfield scheme of things alongside Salva Sevilla giving LGP a major selection headache this afternoon, with Iddrisu Baba still on the treatment table with a calf injury and not expected back until next week.

The question now is who will join Salva Sevilla in the engine room. Now that the defence has stabilised with the return of Antonio Raillo and that our attack has entered a new dimension with the emergence of Vedat Muriqi (now nicknamed “El Pirata” by our fans and who’s scored the same amount of goals in four games here as he did in 49 games for his parent club Lazio), the last thing we want is a problem in midfield.

Salva Sevilla will as usual be one of the first names on the team sheet, although he’s unlikely to play 90 minutes. It looks like Antonio Sanchez will take Galarreta’s place as he did quite competently at Betis. Sanchez is a particular favourite of LGP who thinks the 24-year-old Palma-born player has “freshness, energy and versatility.”

Before tomorrow’s match, at 12 noon the club, realising the importance of the game, are organising an “Afternoon Gala” outside the Mallorcafé with numerous activities on the agenda including music and free ensaimadas and ice cream. In the fourth minute of play (Galarreta wore the No. 4 shirt), a round of applause will be given to let the player know the fans are with him all the way during his nine-month recuperation period.

It was announced this week that left back Brian Olivan won’t be renewing his contract in June and will be moving to Espanyol. Just why these things are announced with 12 games left to play and not at the end of the season seems strange to me.

The highly anticipated visit of Real Madrid on match day 28 takes place on Monday, March 14 at 9 pm. Match tickets range between 140€ and 250€ and are now on sale at the club offices.

The time and date hasn’t gone down well with local peñas (supporters clubs) because kids won’t be able to attend because of school the next day and many fans have to work the following day.

Ironically this game will see all crowd limitation restrictions lifted for the first time in two years, although I doubt it will be a full house.

The game is one of those “Bocadillo” games when many people bring a big sandwich wrapped in tin-foil which has a ritual of only being eaten at half time!!

Tomorrow’s visitors Valencia are currently in a state of decay facing financial difficulties off the pitch and mixed fortunes on it.

They arrive on the back of a 1-4 drubbing by Barcelona.

They haven’t won a league game for two months and have, under coach Jose Bordalas (who in 10 visits to Son Moix has never lost – seven draws and three wins), a porous defence leaking 42 goals so far this season; only bottom side Levante on 51 have a worst goals against tally.

The team has marginally improved their offensive prowess but it’s at the back where Mallorca (who’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in the last 10 games) should take advantage this afternoon.

For the game, Valencia will be missing their talismanic Spanish international left back and captain, Jose Gaya, and ex Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista.

However, upfront they have the lightning quick Portuguese international Goncalo Guedes and Brian Gill on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.

Prediction: If Mallorca can get their new midfield up and running, I expect them to win a tight encounter.

AND FINALLY, during a school football match the sports master called one of the 10-year-old players aside and asked “Do you understand what cooperation is? What a team is?”
The boy nodded in the affirmative.

“Do you also understand what matters is not whether we win, lose or even draw, but how we play together as a team?”
The little boy again nodded.

“So,” the sports master continued, “I’m sure you know when a penalty is given, you shouldn’t all surround the referee, trying to make him change his mind – or argue, swear at and attack the referee, or call him bad names. Do you understand all that?”

Again the boy nodded. The sports master added “And when I call you off the pitch so that another boy gets a chance to play, it’s not cool sportsmanship to call me a ‘stupid a****ole,’ is it?” The boy agreed again.

“Good,” concluded the sports manager, “now go over there and explain all that to your mother!”