A Shot in the Arm
Real Mallorca received a huge shot in the arm when they beat Espanyol at the Son Moix Stadium on Sunday 6th October in the baking heat of a 12-noon kick off. The visitors from Barcelona had beaten CSKA Moscow 2-0 in the Europa League three days earlier and flew directly to Palma from the Russian capital for their preparations. Their league form had been disappointing despite their exploits in Europe and they were only one point above the islanders, both filling relegation places in La Liga. There were attempts by both sides to dominate possession in the early stages after head coach Vicente Moreno had surprisingly left Japanese whizz kid Take Kubo on the substitutes bench opting for a more conservative formation. Febas was selected to link play between midfield and striker Ante Budimir and obviously Moreno decided not to risk two lightweight but creative players in the same side in such an important match.
Midfield destroyer Baba played an imperious pass to Sastre on the right wing in the 37th minute and his pinpoint cross was turned into the net by Budimir. The relief among the fans was palpable and there was only going to be one winner from that moment on. In the second half Manolo Reina in the home goal made one routine save before Kubo was introduced to an ecstatic welcome in place of Lago Junior who is suffering from a dip in form.
There was again an increased number of East Asian journalists in the press room and Kubo received some rough treatment from the visitors defence but he has the ability to ride late tackles.
After 73 minutes Febas threaded a pass through to Salva Sevilla and the Silver Fox made no mistake with his left foot.
Two days later Espanyol dismissed their head coach David Gallego which shows how important staying in La Liga is to every club irrespective of European exploits.
There is a week’s break in the fixtures because of international matches which gives Moreno time to prepare his team for the visit of table toppers Real Madrid on Saturday 19th October. There has been huge interest in the match and the available tickets were soon sold out despite the inflated prices. It will be a classic David against Goliath contest and logically there will only be one winner but fortunately logic obviously often doesn’t apply to football. It would be an enormous upset if Mallorca were to gain any kind of result but Madrid’s form has been patchy despite being top of the league. Head coach of Los Blancos Zinedine Zidane has a much publicised difference of opinion with star player Gareth Bale and the Welshman is rumoured to be engineering an escape from the capital in the winter transfer window.
The home fans will have the stadium rocking without a doubt and there will be a worldwide television audience. Miracles can happen!