After a week when I found a 20€ note in Carrefour car park, wondering what to do with it, I asked myself “What would Jesus have done ?” – so I turned it into wine ! – Real Mallorca, top of La Liga SmartBank, play 17th placed Albacete at their Carlos Belmonte stadium tonight at 9 pm. The corresponding fixture back in October saw a 0-0 draw in the Son Moix in a game where Albacete’s Manacor-born goalkeeper Tomeu Nadal played an absolute blinder. Since then Albacete have been stuck in the nether regions of the league, although after a change of coach (for the third time this season) they’ve had something of a mini-revival, becoming one of the in-form teams, winning four and drawing one of their last five games.
As Mallorca enter a season-defining month with games against second-placed Espanyol and Almeria coming up over the next two weekends, we ideally need to get a good result tonight. With Espanyol not playing until Monday, Mallorca have the advantage of a couple of days more preparation time before the biggest fixture of our season to date, which kicks off next Sunday (14th) at 14:00 hrs in the Son Moix. The Almeria game, also in Palma, is the following Sunday (21st) at 16:00.
Right backs Sastre and Gamez are missing through injury, so coach Luis Garcia Plaza has a selection headache and will have to improvise to find a suitable replacement. With the modern full back being more of an attacker than a defender, Lago Junior could get the nod. Unfortunately his tackling prowess isn’t the best and the chances of him giving away a penalty loom large.
With the January transfer window closing last Monday at midnight, the general feeling amongst fans and media is that the business done by director of football Pablo Ortells is good. Mallorca have a 27-player squad with one objective on the table, promotion to La Liga. LGP has at his disposal the players he wanted and the arrival of Alvaro Gimenez (Cadiz), Victor Mollejo (Getafe/At. Madrid) and goalkeeper Koke Vegas (Levante), all at the last minute and on loan, has raised the potential of the squad with 19 games left on the fixture list. Manolo Reina will be unquestionably our No. 1 choice goalkeeper with Koke Vegas his understudy. If Reina remains injury or suspension free then it looks like Koke will head back to his parent club without making his debut.
Our defence more or less picks itself with the coach having two players per position, although LGP will have to improvise tonight with Sastre and Gamez unavailable. Centre backs Raillo and Valjent are the best two central defenders in the division and the fact we’ve only lost three games all season and conceded 11 goals is down to their brilliance. In the engine room midfield, Galarreta and Salva Sevilla backed up by Baba and Aleix Febas, have looked impressive. When Salva especially plays well so do the team.
At 36, he doesn’t look to be sailing off into the sunset just yet. In attack some may say we have a case of overbooking. With the arrival of Alvaro Gimenez, Abdon Prats has some competition. New signing Mollejo can play down either flank or upfront where before we only had Amath, although he’s now in a rich vein of form making him a certain starter. Also available are Lago Junior, Jordi Mboula and an unsettled Antonio Sanchez. Then there’s our 16-year-old sensation Luka Romero. Under the tutelage of the coach (who’s not rushing him through his professional apprenticeship), Luka’s future looks very promising.
Dani Rodriguez has been magnificent this season scoring six goals from midfield with two assists, 21 shots and 1,613 minutes of playing time. He is one of the players most valued by the coach, if not THE most. Top scorer with Abdon, Dani’s one of the reasons Mallorca are top of this difficult league. Two players on big wages who Mallorca tried unsuccessfully to offload last month, Trajkovski and Murillo, will hardly play for the rest of the season.
Without a shadow of doubt, Abdon Prats has been our revelation player so far. Author of decisive goals including a spectacular overhead strike against Almeria he’s worked his socks off upfront. With the arrival of Alvaro Gimenez, the “Arta Dimoni” now has some serious competition as our No. 9. Jordi Mboula is often the coach’s first change choice and his ability to run at and beat defenders is a real bonus.
Man. Utd.’s 9-0 drubbing of Southampton on Tuesday night brought back memories of the old Luis Sitjar days. One game Mallorca were going goal crazy and were 9-0 up with time running out. The old scoreboard (which had numbers that had to be attached by a hook) was operated by a guy who had to climb a small set of steps to be able to hang them up. It turned out there was no number 9 in the guy’s box so, using his ingenuity, he took the hook from the number 6, pulling it out with a pair of pliers, and put the hook in the other end, turning it upside down. Result – he had a number 9 !!
AND FINALLY, a wife comes home late one night after a girls’ night, and quietly opens the door to the bedroom. From under the duvet she sees four legs instead of her husband’s two. She reaches for a baseball bat they keep in the wardrobe (as you do !), and starts hitting the duvet as hard as she can. Once she’s done, she goes to the kitchen to have a drink. As she enters she sees her husband there looking at his phone. He says “Hi babe, your parents have dropped in unexpectedly so I let them sleep in our bedroom. Did you say hello ?”