Back with a Bang

Real Mallorca made the perfect start to their return  to La Liga on Saturday the 17th of August with a 2 – 1 win at home to Eibar.  The crowd was over 15,000 and this is in stark contrast to two years ago when the team started the season in the Spanish third division away at Peralada in front of less than 1,000 people. Out of all the summer signings only two started the game in the shape of left back Lumor and Febas who arrived from the Real Madrid academy. This is indicative of the loyalty that head coach Vicente Moreno has shown toward his tight knit group of players.  

The islanders made a dream start when after only three minutes Dani Rodriguez opened the scoring. He received a pass from Ante Budimir on the halfway line and set off for goal leaving defenders trailing in his wake before calmly slotting the ball home.  It was almost utopia two minutes later when Budimir missed what appeared to be a sitter from a few meters out. In fairness Salva Sevilla had driven a cross at pace which the Croatian turned over the bar. 

The game settled down with Mallorca dominating possession but slowly Eibar clawed their way back into contention. The visitors finished 9th in La Liga last season and that was on the back of a solid home record. That is something that Moreno´s men must be looking to emulate this season. Most of the Spanish press have given the side little chance of surviving in the top flight. One thing is sure in this league – if the opposition are given a chance they are much more likely to take it than in the lower divisions. And so after the break Mallorca´s keeper Manolo Reina made two excellent saves in the space of seconds in the 56th minute but couldn’t prevent Oliveira following up to equalise.  Summer recruit  Alex Alegria replaced Budimir who had run himself into the ground. Alegria looks like a useful addition and was a handful for the visitors defence .  On the 74th minute he was striving to reach a cross and Oliveira turned the ball past his own goalkeeper. The stadium clock seemed to tick over very slowly in the remaining 16 +  minutes but Mallorca held on to record a famous victory.  Dani Rodriguez was magnificent throughout and just edged Baba to the man of the match award.  The Ghanaian was tireless in his defensive midfield role and looks a very accomplished player revelling in the rarefied atmosphere of La Liga. After the first week Mallorca are joint top of the league with Barcelona joint bottom. The fans are loving this situation although it may not continue for long !  Barcelona lost 1 – 0 at Athletic Bilbao and veteran striker Aduriz ( 38 ) , ex Mallorca player,scored with a stunning overhead kick. 

The transfer window does not close in Spain until the end of the month and director of football Javier Reccio is looking to bring in some experienced cover. All eyes will be on the squads of some of the bigger teams in the next couple of weeks to ascertain which players areout of favour and may relish a new challenge. 

Mallorca´s next game is also at home this Sunday the 25th of August against Real Sociedad with a 5pm kick off. Everyone is hoping that  the team can open with successive victories which would be a real confidence boost.