How has life back in LaLiga begun for Mallorca?
Everyone is delighted to be back in La Liga, but now the hard work begins. The club is determined to beat the odds and stay in the division — despite most of the squad being from the Segunda B, having the lowest wage budget in the league and having the shortest preparation time following the Segunda playoff final.
With all that in mind, nobody knew really what to expect. We have started relatively positively and competed well in every game, up until Sunday versus Getafe.
How has American influence revitalized this club?
The owners have made a number of savvy appointments who know Spanish football. They would admit themselves to not necessarily being experts, but have surrounded themselves with people who are in order to get the best possible results. The signing of Vicente Moreno as manager has been far and away their most shrewd move, although convincing the wizard Salva Sevilla to drop to the Segunda B was also a masterstroke.
Who do you believe is this team’s best or most influential player?
The team’s strength is in its collective nature. This really is a unit working for each other. I don’t think you could say there is any one player who is head and shoulders above the rest, and perhaps that is part of the reason for their success.
If I had to pick out one or two though, it would be Salva Sevilla for his willingness to receive the ball in tight positions anywhere on the pitch, Baba in midfield (who has emerged as a rising star this year) and Dani Rodriguez, who is a tireless box to box terrier. These three are the engine room of Real Mallorca.
Mallorca pulled off a bit of a coup by bringing in Real Madrid starlet Takefusa Kubo on loan. Thoughts on him so far?
It’s early days and he had not seen much pitch time until Sunday’s game against Getafe, which really was a baptism of fire for the 18-year-old. He is skillful and tricky, works hard and is incredibly mature and professional. Without a doubt he will be a La Liga player throughout his career if that is what he chooses. Whether that is at the very top level with Madrid or not, it remains too early to tell.
What are Vicente Moreno’s tendencies as a coach?
Moreno is consistent in his selection when he can be and loyal to his team. He has developed a very tight-knit unit and believes strongly in working hard and earning the shirt. As we have seen with Kubo, you have to perform in training to earn an opportunity off the bench and then deliver from the bench to take a starting place. He is measured and calm, not getting carried away, and his key strength is managing the psychological side of the game.
Moreno will set his side up to be solid, with overlapping full backs where possible and getting to the byline for cut backs. His playing style is one of direct counterattacking play, using short purposeful and incisive passes to make the most of opportunities. Of course much of that this season will depend on the quality of the opposition and how able they are to play that style.
The big question: can this team stay up?
Yes, but it will be tough and it will be by finishing 17th. Their best hope is to make games tight and nick a point, possibly three. Expect to see a number of games decided by one goal.
Goals will be an issue for Mallorca. Before Sunday’s late charge vs. Getafe, a Mallorca player had not found the net since minute four of the season. 0-0 and 1-0 either way is likely to be their most likely scoreline.
Scoreline prediction for Wednesday?
If Atleti turn up, then Mallorca will struggle to contain them with some key players missing through injury following the game at Getafe. However, the longer it stays 0-0 the more chance Mallorca have of taking something — an early goal will kill them. If we can get to 60 mins at 0-0, then I say we’d stand a good chance of nicking a draw or maybe, just maybe, that 1-0 victory.
Oblak; Trippier, Savić, Hermoso, Lodi; Llorente, Thomas, Koke, Vitolo; Costa, Morata
2-0 Atlético. Diego Simeone is expected to make a few more alterations with one eye on Saturday’s Madrid Derby. Regardless of what he does, the rojiblancos have to get back on track Wednesday night. That means taking all three points with as little furor as possible.
Of course, this means there will be furor. Though much has changed since Mallorca were last in the top flight, Son Moix is a house of horrors for Atlético Madrid, as the visitors have one win from the past nine in Palma. That said, I’m backing them to get that early goal here and win a match in which they will need Jan Oblak to be sharp.
Jeremy’s record on the season: 3-3
How to watch
Date: Sept. 25, 2019
Location: Estadi de Son Moix, Palma, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Kickoff time: 7:00 p.m. CET, 6:00 p.m. GMT, 1:00 p.m. EST, 10:00 a.m. PST
Available TV/streaming: MiTele Plus, Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Premier Sports 2 (United Kingdom), beIN Sports, fubo.tv (United States), Eleven Sports 1 (Portugal), SportKlub 1 Serbia (Montenegro), Stöð 2 Sport 2 (Iceland), beIN Sports 1 (Indonesia), QQ Sports Live (China)