We had the feelgood factor for 45 minutes and didn’t seem at all fazed by the magnitude of our opponents.
The islanders seemed to relish the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu and as early as the third minute we saw a Muriqi turn and shot, parried by Courtois. In the 34th minute, Mallorca won a free kick, Kang In Lee swept the ball over and an unmarked Muriqi headed in to give us a shock lead, 0-1.
Real Madrid then did what they always do nowadays, dusted themselves down and responded with a brilliant equaliser just before half time. The Uruguayan superstar Federico Valverde scored one of those goals that go around the world on social media.
He picked up the ball just inside his own half and sped virtually unchallenged for 52 metres in a lung-busting run before hitting a sizzler into Rajkovic’s top lefthand corner. The first goal we’d conceded from open play this season. However, questions were asked how he managed to run that distance unchallenged.
It was such a shame we gave away that wonder goal because up until then we more than held our own against a team who always looked like they can find another gear. Mallorca went in at the break fulfilling our coach Javier Aguirre’s defensive coaching system with flying colours.
Trying to stop Real Madrid in the Bernabeu is asking for trouble and so it came to be. It was good to see one of my favourite players, Galarreta, back in the starting XI after a long term out with a knee injury and he gave the team some much-needed dynamics on the few occasions he saw the ball.
Just before the hour mark came the miss of this fledgling season. Substitute Grenier was involved setting up Antonio Sanchez and (with all his teammates up off the bench ready to celebrate) saw the Palma-born midfielder fluff the shot wide. That miss was the key to this match. Sanchez always looks lazy to me, his socks nearer his ankles than his knees. Missing golden opportunities in the Santiago Bernabeu is not a good idea and we were severely punished for that miss.
In the 72nd minute with the Mallorca defence looking dead on their feet, Rodrygo put on the “Twinkletoes Show,” passing to Vinicius (who during the game made more dives than Tom Daly, with 10 points for artistic impression to boot !) stroked home the second, 1-2 – game over !
Aguirre then rang the changes, taking off a knackered Muriqi and a limping Kang In Lee, bringing on Abdon Prats and Lago Junior, neither of whom touched the ball in the remaining few minutes. Madrid sentenced the game in the 88th minute when Rodrygo waltzed through a static Mallorca defence to make it 3-1, then minutes later in added-on time ex Chelsea player Rudiger made it four from a suspiciously offside position.
SUMMING UP: This was by no means a stroll in the park for Ancelotti’s boys. The scoreline looks like Mallorca took a hell of a beating but in reality this wasn’t the case. True, we couldn’t handle the Brazilian speedstar Vinicius Jnr (no team can). The miss by Antonio Sanchez in the second half will haunt him for a long, long time.
In the absence of Karim Benzema, it had appeared that Real Madrid would lack that cutting edge but Vinicius more than made up for Benzema’s absence. His replacement, the once world class Eden Hazard, was again rubbish and his days at Real Madrid are surely numbered.
It was a very ugly ending for this resilient Mallorca side and they can hold their heads high in having held a team of WORLD CLASS players for all of 75 minutes.
Next Saturday at 2pm in Son Moix we play last season’s Segunda champions Almeria and we’ll have to do that without our new striking sensation Tino Kadewere who damaged knee ligaments in training on Friday. Mallorca are now in talks with his parent club Lyon to see whether he goes through surgery (with a long recuperation period) or let nature take its course (shorter recuperation period). Either way, it’s unlikely we’ll see much of him before 2023.
Ex Mallorca wonder kid Marco Asensio (now at Real Madrid) is not a happy man. He’s now last of the striking options on Carlo Ancelotti’s list of preferences. On Sunday he showed his frustration in front of 54,816 spectators in the Bernabeu when seeing he wasn’t going to come on at any stage, he threw his bib to the ground, kicked over a bottle of water and then threw his shirt against another seat.
Marco’s played just 19 minutes in this season’s games and his form over the past 18 months has dropped dramatically. He was badly injured in pre-season in America two summers ago and has never regained that spark he had when he played here and early doors in Madrid.
We would have Marco back here in a heartbeat and I’m sure he’d love to come home to El Toro but it’s the old chestnut (money) that would stop us seeing him back in Son Moix.
However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he came back on loan in January.
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