After a week when a friend of mine has decided to sell all his John Lennon memorabilia on E-Bay – Imagine all the Pay, Pal ! – Real Mallorca face a mammoth task on Sunday afternoon at 14:00 when the mighty Real Madrid come to town. The Palma side are still sitting in mid-table obscurity on 25 points as we reach the second half of season 2022/23. Last March, Real Madrid won the corresponding fixture 0-3.
Coach Javier Aguirre will pick his usual nailed-on five at the back, and basically “park the bus” (an expression used when smaller teams try to keep a tight-knit defence to gain the best result). Playing defensive football against a team of XI world class players is dicing with death as Vinicius Jnr, Rodrygo and Benzema will have a field day, causing our defence all sorts of problems. The only way to even get half a chance against “Los Meringues” is to attack them from the start, but with only Muriqi up front that’s a big problem.
In the game last March there was a real verbal and physical battle going on between several of our defenders and Vinicius Jnr (the biggest whinger in Spanish football !) and there’s still no love lost. I expect there to be more fireworks on Sunday.
Mallorca will be without Copete who’s suspended and I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to the outcome of Sunday’s game, just to say GET IN EARLY, I’d hate you to miss Mallorca’s early goal !! A full house of 19,000 is expected.
When the January transfer window closed on Tuesday night, our director of football Pablo Ortells had brought in three new players. On Monday Real Mallorca and Colombian side Deportivo Cali reached an agreement for the transfer, with a purchase option, of left attacking midfielder, 19-year-old Daniel Luna. He’s been one of the sensations of the group stage of the South American Under 20 Tournament. Luna will return to Colombia this weekend then come back to the island in a few weeks.
Monday also saw the arrival of 29-year-old Swedish left back Ludwig Augustinsson. Capped 50 times for his country, he made 27 appearances for his parent club Sevilla. After spending a recent period on loan with Aston Villa, he’s also featured for Werder Bremen, FK Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Ludwig is no stranger to Mallorca as his parents own property in Arta and he has spent many summers here. He also comes on loan until June.
The third newcomer is 24-year-old mid fielder Manu Morlanes. A native of Zaragoza, he arrives on loan until the end of the season BUT with a mandatory purchase option of 4 million euros if we stay in top flight Spanish football. Described as a box-to-box midfielder, he’s come through the ranks at Villareal and has played in La Liga and in Europe for the “Yellow Submarine,” plus spending time at Girona in La Segunda and Espanyol. Morlanes arrives at Mallorca to increase competitiveness in midfield and is seen as a shoo-in replacement for Galarreta who looks homeward bound to Bilbao in the Summer.
No doubt about the top story in Spanish football this past week and again it’s all about these terrible Spanish referees. I know they’re a fundamental part of football and their job is as important as it is sacrificial, and there wouldn’t be a game without them. Just last week the CEO of At. Madrid was left wondering if Real Madrid pay match officials because they seem to always get favourable calls from said officials.
A former referee Eduardo Iturralde (who refereed our cup final win in 2003) claimed recently that 90% of Spanish referees support Real Madrid and the remainder follow Barcelona !
A lot of these Spanish “whistlers’” shenanigans have come closer to home after the display of match referee De Burgos Bengoetxea, and Estrada Fernandez in the VAR room, last Saturday. In the 9th minute of the match at Cadiz, their player Mbaye made a horrific lunge tackle on Grenier, raking his studs down the back of the Mallorca player’s Achilles tendon. Even on TV you could hear Grenier screaming with pain and the incident should have seen Mbaye given a straight red card for dangerous play. Unbelievably the referee never even produced a yellow card in what was serious foul play. Estrada in the VAR room also took no action and made me think what on earth is the point of having VAR if it’s not used to protect a player’s career. If the correct decision had been taken, Cadiz would have been down to 10 men and Mallorca might have put up a better performance. As it was, Cadiz scored one minute later !
Estrada’s got “previous.” He was in charge of VAR at our away game at Betis last season. A scything tackle by their hatchet man Victor Ruiz on Galarreta saw Ruiz put Galarreta in a leg lock that ruptured his cruciate ligaments, putting him out for six months. Again, nothing was done about Ruiz’s “assault” on Galarreta.
PS Mallorca’s “want away” South Korean midfielder, 21-year-old Kang In Lee, looked well happy the other day when I saw him driving his new, black, top of the range Porsche !
AND FINALLY, the wife suggested we spice things up a bit in the bedroom and play a game of Doctors and Nurses. So I put her on a trolley in the hall and ignored her for 48 hours !
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