Real Mallorca are involved in a second round Copa del Rey tie today at 12:00 when they play Third division group 8 leaders Zamora.
When the draw was made, Mallorca were pitched against this team from the Castile/Leon region of Spain who are breaking all records this season.
They’ve scored an incredible 52 goals and remain unbeaten in their league after 20 games, conceding 10. With our away form the worst in La Liga, there’s no doubt our chances of winning on a small grass pitch with a capacity 10,000 baying for blood, don’t look good. Zamora knocked second division Sporting Gijon out in the previous round.
In fact, it would be no shock if our cup participation came to an end around 2 o’clock this afternoon.
If we did exit the cup at this early stage, I reckon it would be a blessing in disguise. The one-legged tie comes as more of a distraction to a Real Mallorca side who have slipped into the dreaded drop zone.
Today we should see a scratch side put out by coach Vicente Moreno as he did in the first round when we squeezed past another third division outfit El Alamo 0-1 with a scrambled 94th minute winner.
League survival is the name of the game for the Palma side now as we enter the second half of the season at home to Valencia next Sunday at 12 midday. After a bright start to the campaign our form has dipped alarmingly and we’ve only taken a single point from 18 possible as we sit third bottom on 15 points.
Worrying times for us were confirmed by the coach after our 1-0 defeat to Granada last Sunday. At the post match press meeting he said “A ceiling has been touched and there is no more level. The quality of the players is what it is.”
Basically he said the players are playing the best they can but it’s not good enough at the moment to stay in La Liga.
The team is in free fall and under normal circumstances the coach whose charges are struggling down the wrong end of the league would be dismissed. But that’s not likely to happen because the owner, Robert Sarver, knows Moreno is doing his best with the players at his disposal. It is essential we sign better replacements in this transfer window although that’s no easy task in a limited winter market. It’s the lack of quality of our last Summer’s signings (with the exceptional of Kubo and Febas) that have put us where we are in the standings.
Moreno kept faith with a lot of the players who’ve come up two leagues in as many seasons. These guys are now rubbing shoulders with the nobility of Spanish football, not helped by having the lowest salary cap in La Liga. Just to show how difficult it is for Mallorca to sign good replacements, Espanyol, who are bottom, have just spent 20 million euros (nearly Mallorca’s total budget this year) on a striker, the most expensive player they have ever bought.
On the left side of the pitch there’s a gaping hole. Baba Rahman came on loan from Chelsea then sustained a cruciate injury against Getafe in October and has been missing in action ever since. His place went to fellow Ghanaian Lumor, on loan from Sporting Lisbon but his level is not good enough for the Spanish first division. A French left back, 25 year old Hassane Kamara, is on Mallorca’s radar as a possible signing.
One ray of light has been the availability of striker “Cucho” Hernandez on loan from Watford. He was unable to play for three months after injuring a hamstring playing for the Colombian Under 20 side in August. The injury required surgery. A bit like Harry Kane now. We started the season well beating Eibar, Espanyol and Real Madrid. That allowed us to climb into ninth place with 10 points. However, our form has nose-dived since then.
Our return to the big time is proving torturous for the Palma team. It’s hard to believe that away at Valencia on September 1 we dominated for half an hour, hitting the post twice before going down to a couple of penalties. That display is a distant memory now.
It’s not that Mallorca are playing badly – our finishing in front of goal has been woeful.
VAR certainly hasn’t helped and has been one of the undisputed protagonists of the first half of the season.
We’ve been involved in more penalty decisions than any other team, 17 in total, seven in favour and 10 against. Pundits reckon we need 45 points for survival before we can seal a deal for next season. At the start of the campaign, CEO Maheta Molango said we were midgets in the land of giants.
Our rise up two divisions in two seasons has been meteoric – the hard part starts next Sunday against Valencia.