After a week when it was reported that Sir Elton John doesn’t eat lettuce – turns out he’s a rocket man ! – Real Mallorca get back to La Liga business tomorrow night (Saturday, October 1) against some Catalan outfit called Barcelona in a sold-out Son Moix at 9pm !

Our four international players, Muriqi, Valjent, Baba and Kang In Lee, are expected to be back after playing in the Nations League (Muriqi/Valjent) and friendlies (Baba/Kang In Lee), and hopefully will be ready to play high scoring Barcelona who look likely to be minus lots of top players. Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde have suffered long-term injuries whilst on international duty and Dutch stars Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay are very doubtful, plus Dembele will have a late fitness test. Without a doubt these absentees would affect any team but Barcelona have quality replacements and have more strikers than Network Rail !

I’m looking forward to seeing the new breed of “Barça boys,” Pedri, Ansu Fati and Gavi. All three are full Spanish internationals and it’s Gavi that I think could be the player we upset the most. Even at the tender age of 18, he’s one of the niggliest players in La Liga and his name is regularly in the referee’s notebook.

However, his temperament aside, he has a buy out clause at Barcelona of one BILLION euros !! Despite him not being the fizziest drink in the fridge, when it comes to him curbing his aggression, he plays with his bootlaces undone. Fans used to speculate whether he had a bizarre superstition or pre-match ritual which involves his laces being unfastened. It turns out there’s a simple explanation, Gavi simply doesnt know how to lace up his boots !

During the week our Mexican coach Javier Aguirre has been putting a magnifying glass on his team. Taking advantage of the break last weekend, he spoke to the media saying he was pleased the way the season is going. As we sit in mid table obscurity (it would be brilliant if we stayed there or thereabouts when the World Cup starts in 52 days), Aguirre said “I think we are where we should be.” He went on “I’ve been here for 15 games, we’ve won six, we’ve lost six and drawn three.” He made it clear that effort and dedication were not negotiable. “For us being in La Primera is very good and people value it. The fans are happy and so are the players and staff.” Aguirre concluded by saying “Barcelona come here as the highest scorers in La Liga (18) and the fewest goals conceded (1). Although it looks like they’ll have a few casualties, we have no doubt it will be difficult to get a hold of Barcelona. But we will, as usual, try our best against formidable opponents. As long as we finish with our heads held high we can ask for no more.”

Once again our main protagonist is likely to be Vedat Muriqi, who scored twice in Kosovo’s 5-1 demolition of Cyprus on Tuesday night, giving him three goals in two games and 24 for his country in total. There’s no doubt 6ft 4in. Muriqi will worry the Barça defenders tomorrow night. Mallorquinistas love him, not just for his scoring ability, but for the influence he exerts on the rest of the team. Not since Samuel Eto’o have we had a player who’s so decisive on the pitch, although the characteristics are very different. Both Eto’o and Muriqi have been undisputed leaders for RCD Mallorca.

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In the 21 league games Muriqi’s played in, he’s scored eight goals (five of them headers). He’s unquestionably one of the best headers of a ball in top flight European football, only surpassed by Harry Kane.

In the corresponding fixture last January, the Son Moix through Covid restrictions was only allowed 75% of the stadium capacity. We witnessed a truly terrible match which didn’t come to life until the last 10 minutes.

The game was peppered by petty fouls mostly from a clinical Catalan side who, after Luuk de Jong headed in the game’s only goal near the end, parked the proverbial bus, running down the clock with their time-wasting shenanigans.

Saturday’s game will see one of world football’s top predatory strikers making his first appearance as a player on the island (he owns property in Andraitx), Robert Lewandowski. This guy oozes class and will have to be watched big time by our defence, give him half a chance and he’ll score. He’s already netted six goals in eight games and is so far Spain’s leading scorer.

Even with several top stars missing Barça will start clear favourites. All I’m hoping for (unlikely to happen with five in defence) is that we don’t show the visitors too much respect. If we sit back and let the slick-passing Catalans take complete control of proceedings then we’ll be lucky to get out of our own half. Sitting back and soaking up incessant pressure is tantamount to football suicide.

Our games are coming thick and fast. After Barcelona we’re away at basement side Elche on Monday, October 10 at 9pm, then it’s Sevilla in Son Moix on Saturday 15th at 18:30. After that we have two away fixtures, Real Sociedad (with Take Kubo) on Wednesday 19th at 20:00, then Valencia in the Mestalla, Saturday 22nd at 18:30.

AND FINALLY, old joke alert. A man goes into a Chinese takeaway and the owner Mr Wang says to him “What you do for riving ?” The man tells him “What do I do for a living ? I’m a bit of a comedian.” So Mr Wang says “Go on, then. Change colour.” The man replies “No, you don’t understand. I’m not a chameleon, I’m a comedian.” Mr Wang goes on “Okay, tell me a joke, make me raff.” The man answers “You want me to tell you a joke and make you laugh ?” Just then Mr Wang’s wok catches fire so the man shouts out “Wok, wok !” and Mr Wang says “Who der ?!!”