After a week when I read “I think all that Gary Lineker overblown malarkey was a load of hot air – similar to what I get when I buy a bag of Walkers crisps !” – Real Mallorca face a tough game on Sunday at 14:00 hrs when they play Real Betis at their highly intimidating Estadio Benito Villamarin in Seville.
The good news for the Palma side is that ace striker Vedat Muriqi is available for selection after missing last Sunday’s highly creditable 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad through suspension. We’ll play Betis just a few days after they faced an almost impossible task on Thursday night in turning round a 4-1 defeat against Man. Utd at Old Trafford in the first leg Europa league tie last week. Betis lie in 5th place in La Liga and have their sights set on a place in next season’s Champions League and our last win against them was in 2020.
Mallorca sit in mid table on 32 points and our main objective is to put an end to our run of five straight away defeats.
As we reach match day 26, in theory 10 more points should be enough for us to stay in La Liga next season. With 13 games left on “El Calendario” where do these 10 points come from ? We have six home games and seven away. Our next fixture in the Son Moix is on Friday 31st at 9pm against Osasuna. They’re two points above us but are sure to have both eyes on their Copa Del Rey semi-final second leg against Athletic Club the following mid-week. After that we’re at home to Getafe, Athletic, Cadiz, Valencia and Rayo Vallecano, teams from the middle and lower regions of La Liga.
Winning at home is key to our survival (three wins and a draw wouldn’t be too shabby). Away from the island is tricky, with Betis, Valladolid, Celta, Atletico Madrid, Girona, Almeria and Barcelona.
Something very different happened at half time in last Sunday’s game. Coach Aguirre decided to make two early changes, unlike what he normally does, bringing on players late on in the second half. The first half was the worst seen at home this season which needed an immediate response. Aguirre decided to change the system to a back four with two attackers.
The transformation wasn’t just about the players but the fans became much more animated and emotions were running high. The team were so different and looked more up for a fight. Goodness knows what Aguirre told his players in the dressing room at half time (or what filling they put in the bocadillos !!) but it certainly paid dividends.
As RCD Mallorca reach a decisive phase in La Liga, Aguirre’s courageous decisions paid dividends – big time. It’s not known if Kadewere would have been substituted if he hadn’t been taken ill at half time but the entry of Abdon Prats and Amath was inspirational and we came mighty close to winning the game.
South Korean mid-fielder Kang In Lee had his best game in a Mallorca jersey and was taken off near the end because, after covering just about every blade of grass on the pitch, he was just plain “knackered” ! In recent months Kang In Lee has become a phenomenon. Since the month of November, the club shop have had real problems in terms of having enough No. 19 shirts on sale both in the two “tiendas” and online.
At every game, home and away, many South Korean fans are present and Mallorca have ensured commercial success in marketing and advertising in Asia. The only down side is there being a proliferation of 2pm kick offs (nine so far) to coincide with peak viewing hours, especially in South Korea. Lots of Mallorquinistas have complained that on a Sunday at 2pm it’s paella time and their wives and families won’t allow them to go to the Son Moix. That doesn’t happen in my case as her indoors is very tolerant !!
AND FINALLY, the teacher was telling her class about the Birds and the Bees. She explained to them what happens when a man and a woman meet and fall in love. “Then, children, nine months later, the Stork usually brings them a little baby from its very own soft, feathery nest !”
Little Johnny at the back of the class stuck his hand up and asked the teacher “Hey, Miss, are you sure about the Stork bit ? I think you’re getting your birds mixed up ‘cos my big sister just had a little baby and she said she got it from a Shag in Scarborough !!”
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