Mallorca’s coach Javier Aguirre’s initial starting XI looked on paper to be makeshift at best. | Javier Etxezarreta


The synopsis of this last 16 of the Copa del Rey game was that one team, Real Sociedad, were up for the cup and the other team, RCD Mallorca, most certainly weren’t. Mallorca’s coach Javier Aguirre’s initial starting XI looked on paper to be makeshift at best and indeed that proved to be the case on the pitch.

Sociedad started with eight academy players and took the lead in five minutes. Mallorca’s Argentinian left-back Brian Cufre (who was out on loan at Malaga in the second division last season and only played a handful of games) dithered in clearing his lines and Navarro had an easy opener, 1-0.

I feared the worst after that early goal as Mallorca in the first half DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THE BALL. Sociedad on the counter attack caused many problems and with the rain pouring down in San Sebastian, Mallorca looked like a team of marooned strangers.

The first 45 minutes was terrible and the best part of it was when referee Hernandez Hernandez (so good they named him twice) blew for half time.

In the second half Mallorca tried a new ploy, lumping the high ball up to 5ft 6in Angel Rodriguez and the defence was just managing to hold on with wave after wave to Sociedad attacks looking to see Mallorca fold under pressure. Somehow they held on despite making countless agricultural tackles on the Sociedad youngsters.

Aguirre seeing nothng was happening from his team removed the ineffective Cufre and Kadewere. bringing on Grenier and Abdon. Grenier who I lambasted last weekend suddenly became our best player. He took a corner which looked net-bound, the ball touched Copete, skidded off the bar and was then ruled offside.

Minutes later a Grenier volley was saved as Mallorca looked to grab a late equaliser. However, the countless number of fouls in the last 30 minutes meant all the Palma side’s efforts came to nothing.

Real Sociedad never broke sweat in this game and even with a string of youngsters looked as they are at the moment, the most in form side in Spanish top flight football.

Ace striker Vedat Muriqi didn’t make an appearance, being kept back for Friday night’s must-win game against Celta Vigo in the Son Moix at 9pm. I wonder what the result would have been if Raillo, Costa, Baba and Muriqi had started.

I can remember back in the day when a cup tie played in torrential rain meant a rufty tufty tumble in the mud with neither side giving an inch. This cup tie was a pale imitation of that scenario.

Mallorca have finalised the signing of Bosnian central defender Dennis Hadzikadunic (a commentator’s nightmare, maybe they’ll just call him Dennis !) as a substitute for Franco Russo who has gone to the dizzy heights of Bulgarian football with Ludogorets.

6ft 3in tall, 23-year-old Hadzikadunic comes from Russian side Rostov and played for Malmo in Sweden (the country of his birth) last season.

Nicknamed “The Iceberg” he’s a player with lots of potential having played in the Russian Premier league and has appeared in four Champions League games and six in the Europa League.

We’ve now got a Serbian, a Kosovan and a Bosnian – let’s hope Aguirre can keep the peace on the training ground !!