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Result: Villarreal 3-1 Mallorca

I won't lie: I had a soft spot in my heart for RCD Mallorca. And the same goes for CD Tenerife, UD Las Palmas, and the other island teams: there is something very romantic about that part of the world. But the incidents of last summer have changed my opinion, and apparently the Mallorca management and players won't let things die.

So tomorrow begins the next chapter in the Villarreal-Mallorca relationship, and hopefully our boys are ready for the emotion that the islanders will bring. The return leg at San Moix in May 2011 will be a totally different ballgame; stay tuned for that one.

Mallorca looks to be a mid-table team this year, which is impressive considering the departures of miracle man Manzano (though not with Sevilla) and our very own Borja Valero. Cavenaghi, Nsue, and Webo up front with Castro and the Canadian de Guzman (one of my favorite players) in midfield, along with a resolute back four and steady goalkeeping from Israeli international Aouate, is a good recipe for survival.

Garrido brings an 18-man squad for the match:

Keepers: Diego López & Juan Carlos.
Defenders: Ángel, Capdevila, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Catalá & Mario.
Midfielders: Senna, Bruno, Borja Valero, Cani, Cazorla & Jefferson Montero.
Strikers: Rossi, Nilmar, Marco Ruben & Altidore.

No Marchena or Oriol due to injury, while Matilla remains in the figurative doghouse in favor of defensive cover in the form of Mario.

Expect the typical XI, but for Gonzalo replacing Marchena:

Diego López
Ángel – Musacchio – Gonzalo – Capdevila
Borja – Senna – Bruno – Cazorla
Rossi – Nilmar

Prediction: Mallorca has enough quality and physicality to make a nuisance of itself. I envision a similar trajectory to the Athletic match: an early goal for the visitors, followed by an onslaught from the suddenly-awakened home side. 3-1 to Villarreal, with Nilmar back on the scoresheet. Endavant Villarreal!