No long weeks to break down one performance before we move on to the next. We are plunged right back into preparations for another La Liga match as Mallorca come to El Madrigal on Tuesday. Mallorca had the misfortune of returning to action Barcelona in their first game back and were absolutely pummeled 4-0 but seeing as our Argentine player doesn’t have the last name Messi I am not going to take too much from that match.
Mallorca is one point behind our last opponents Celta in the La Liga table and currently sit in a relegation position. We can expect to face a desperate team and we will need to match that energy in order to get the win we ourselves need very badly. Mallorca are next to last in the league in xG differential and have a very leaky defense, so if we play well we should be able to take care of business.
The names to keep an eye on in attack are Ante Budimir who has nine goals this season and Dani Rodriguez who has five goals and has been one of their better chance creators. There’s also 18 year old Takefusa Kubo to consider, on loan from Real Madrid, and he has gotten better and better as the season has gone on and was probably their best player against FC Barcelona. La Liga is too good a level to take anyone for granted but if we defend the way we did against Celta we should be fine.
In 14 Primera matches we have won 7 and drawn 4 but they did beat us 3-1 earlier this year. Mallorca’s heyday has a club was just as Villarreal was first coming to La Liga. They finished third in 1999 and 2001 and won the 2003 Copa Del Rey
This is where things get weird. With five (well used) subs in the last match we have a lot of players who did not play a full 90 on Saturday, but we also have another match coming up on Friday, so there could be any number of configurations out on the field and it wouldn’t surprise me tomorrow.
If I were to guess, the back line will probably be unchanged and we’ll likely see a shift in the midfield situation to manage the minutes of either Santi or Iborra. Chukwueze and Ontiveros bring so much energy off the bench that I think our front line will stay the same here as well. Zambo was our only midfielder or forward who played the full 90 against Celta and I expect he’ll be subbed at some point. The introduction of Manu Morlanes last time out makes me think he’ll continue to see time as long as he is playing well.
We’re really going to find out what Mallorca is made out of in this one. Does the Barca defeat make them desperate to win or are they demoralized and resigned to relegation? I think we put in another solid defensive display, finish a bit better, and win this one 2-0.