The flight from Barcelona to Mallorca takes 45 minutes. The aircraft has barely enough time to reach a decent cruising altitude before it’s time to come back down. No drinks and peanuts on this route. The Barça boys are off to visit Rubén, Andreu and Gio.
They’ll most likely return with ensaïmadas for their families and friends. Mallorca is famous for them.
Live Blog Alert – DJ Calvin is in da House!
Calvin is back from the wilds of Africa, and he’s live-blogging the Mallorca match! You read it here, first! Check for the Love Blob post just before the game starts, and join in the fun and anguish with your fellow BFB culés.
It’s a weird Sunday kick-off time of 17:50 CET, so click here to convert the match time to your timezone: RCD Mallorca vs. FC Barcelona
Mallorca’s Recent History
RCD Mallorca has been doing some rebuilding on all fronts over the past couple of seasons. It’s a club in debt (which ones aren’t?) and, as money is the root of all evil, this situation exacerbated the issues which were faced by the club over this time.
Failed sales of the club ownership prior to 2010 had the club on the back-foot for a number of years as it struggled with financial difficulties and the loss of its image and brand.
In May 2010, Mallorca filed for bankruptcy and went into voluntary administration, owing approximately €60 million – most of which was owed to non-Balearic companies.
While Spain was winning the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Nadal family (tennis pro Rafael and his uncle, former Barça player Miguel Àngel Nadal) was buying a 10% stake in RCD Mallorca, in an attempt to save the club and bring it back on track.
Former club manager, Llorenç Serra Ferrer, purchased 65% to become the club’s largest stock-holder. Ferrer was also at FC Barcelona for 3 years – the last few months spent as the First Team’s Manager in the 2000/01 season replacing the dismissed Van Gaal, before dismal results also saw him fired and succeeded by Carles Rexach.
The remaining 25% of the club shares were owned by other Mallorca board members including Mateu Alemany and Pedro Terrasa.
UEFA takes the hard line with a minnow club
Although Mallorca had qualified for the 2010/11 Europa League by finishing 5th in La Liga, the financial injection into the club wasn’t enough to satisfy UEFA, and the club’s licence to play in the Europa League was revoked.
New Blood in the Boardroom
In November 2010, another investor came along. German billionaire, Utz Claassen, bought a 10% stake in Mallorca from Mateu Alemany. Claasen, an Economics Professor at Hannover University, had been heavily involved in the restructuring of German Football club, Hannover 96, and Spanish car manufacturer, SEAT.
The Nadal family, prominent native Mallorcans, saw their part in the proceedings as a morale booster for the club, however the UEFA decision to not allow Mallorca into the Europa League (despite other clubs with bigger debts being able to compete) plus the direction of the board put a strain on the relationship between the club and the Nadals.
In November 2011, the Nadals sold their 10% stake to Claassen (who now owns 20%) and Miguel Àngel Nadal resigned his positions as a board member and as a member of the coaching staff. Rafa gave a short interview, stating that, “Mallorca doesn’t portray the best image.”
The Past 12 Months
Since filing for bankruptcy, the club’s debt had risen to €80 million. However, in December 2011, most of the club’s creditors agreed to a 50% reduction in the monies owed to them by Mallorca – provided that the credits are paid, in full, within 5 years.
The boardroom acrimony continues, with differences mainly between Claassen and Llorenç Serra Ferrer, as the 2 men engage in a power struggle at the club. Board Secretary, Miquel Coca, resigned in March 2012, at the same time as Claassen filed a lawsuit against Ferrer and club president Jaume Cladera for fraud.
In May 2012, the club sacked CEO Pedro Terrasa (25% stakeholder and a Claassen ally), claiming a “loss of confidence“.
Profits and Payments
Boardroom bitterness aside, on 16th May 2012 the club announced a €7.2 million profit for the 2010/2011 season – the first result in the black for 10 years. It was mainly down to the sale of player Jonathan de Guzmán to Villarreal. (De Guzmán is currently on loan to Swansea, playing for former Mallorca coach, Michael Laudrup.)
In July 2012 the club also completed the payment of €2.6 million to their unsecured creditors, as well as the payment of player and coaching staff wages worth €4.1 million.
The club’s financial difficulties made it impossible for Gregorio Manzano to continue after the end of the 2010 season, despite his success which had led to Mallorca qualifying for the Europa League.
Enter Michael Laudrup. Laudrup played in Barça’s Dream Team under Cruyff for 5 seasons (1989-1996) before leaving to join Real Madrid after a bust-up with Cruyff. His coaching positions included Getafe and Spartak Moscow before joining Mallorca. Laudrup coached Los Bermellones for a season, narrowly avoiding relegation as the better team players left the struggling club for teams which could afford to pay them.
In September 2011, after the new season had commenced, Laudrup resigned after his Assistant Manager, Erik Larsen, was fired for his disparaging remarks about the club’s major shareholder Serra Ferrer. Laudrup also claimed immense frustration with Serra Ferrer and the bad working climate at the club. (Michael is now Manager of Swansea City, playing in the EPL.)
After Laudrup departed, Mallorca was fortunate to find ex-Bilbao coach Joaquín Caparrós to take over. Caparrós was free because after leaving Bilbao he had gone to Swiss club Neuchâtel Xamax, however a disagreement between the coach and volatile club owner Bulat Chagaev saw Caparrós resign after just 5 games into the season.
Caparrós led Mallorca to a creditable 8th position finish at the end of last season – 3 points shy of qualifying for Europa League.
More Talent Leaves
The end of last season saw more experienced and talented players leaving the club. If you watched Mallorca play last season, you will see a very different team on the pitch this year.
Chori Castro, Marvin Ogunjimi, Iván Ramis, Pau Cendrós, Martí Crespí, Pablo Cáceres and Sergio Tejera all went to (hopefully) greener pastures, while loaned stars Fernando Tissone and Chico Flores (now at Swansea under Laudrup) were not renewed.
The Mallorca Reserve side also released 10 players in an attempt to reduce the club’s overheads.
On the Pitch Today
The club is undergoing a major rebuild of its First Team. (As well as its Reserve Team.)
Due to its financial situation Mallorca is unable to pay high wages, so the team is being restructured around younger players who are talented and eager to shine, while still not stars big enough to command higher wages.
This season, Mallorca has signed:
~ Rubén Miño (Barcelona B GK) – but then they failed to find a club to which they could loan him
~ Antonio López (Atlético Madrid left-back)
~ Javier Arizmendi (Getafe mid-fielder)
~ Javi Márquez (Espanyol mid-fielder)
~ Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham mid-fielder)
~ on-loan Anderson Conceição (Figueirense center-back)
~ on-loan Pedro Geromel (FC Köln center-back)
~ on-loan Andreu Fontàs (FC Barcelona center-back) brought in after a season-ending injury to João Victor.
Barça: not the only team with injury problems
Caparrós must be tearing his hair out – 7 injuries to 7 key players in the space of 7 weeks:
~ Javi Márquez – broken ankle; out for 3 months
~ Team Captain, José Nunes – knee injury; out for 2 months
~ Antonio López – knee injury; out for 2 months
~ João Victor – ACL knee injury; out for 6-7 months
~ Ximo Navarro – knee injury; out for 3 weeks
~ Uche Derima – ACL knee injury; out for 6-7 months
and the 7th injury?
Oh no – Gio to miss the Barça game!
That’s right – Gio re-injured his left thigh (an injury picked up during the Olympic games while playing for Mexico), and he’ll be out of action for 2-3 weeks. He had just made it back after 8 weeks out, and has only managed 3 starts and 1 substitution appearance for Mallorca since the season began.
So, who will Barça play against?
Caparrós may well be considering donning a kit and getting out onto the pitch, however he still has some very decent players in Tomer Hemed, Michael Pereira, Emilio Nsue, Víctor Casadesús, Pedro Bigas, Tomás Pina Isla and Alejandro Alfaro Ligero with Dudu Aouate in goal. Heck, even veteran José Luis Martí might get a game this weekend, as he did against Real Madrid.
There are bound to be some Mallorca Reserve players who would be keen to have a go at the Blaugrana as well.
Mallorca is currently sitting mid-table in 12th position with 11 points – 3W, 2D, 4L, having scored 10 goals and conceded 14 – 5 of them to Real Madrid.
Last season’s game (Barça won 0-2) at Mallorca’s stadium was a scrappy match, mainly because of the pitch. The grass was deliberately left long and the pitch was very bumpy – conditions which don’t suit the Barça game.
Unless Caparrós has mellowed, I would expect to see a similar grassy pitch appearance this weekend, albeit that the game is much earlier this season than it was last season, so maybe it won’t have as many bumps and lumps.
The pitch is separated from the stands by a running track, but that doesn’t stop the fans from making themselves heard:
He did reply in the best possible way – with a goal!
What about our team?
After the mid-week CL loss to Celtic, there’ll be a few players wanting to make amends.
Tito will most likely start with another strong line-up, although he may rest either Xavi (not playing in the Spain friendly in Panama mid-week) or Iniesta for this one, and perhaps Bartra will get a start next to Piqué (also not travelling to Panama) to give Mascherano (and Jim!) a break.
All going well with the game, I’d expect to see Tello play some minutes; possibly Sergi Roberto as well, or maybe FCB will be keen to show off J. Dos Santos to make a case for him moving to Mallorca in January. This game could also suit Alexis if Fontàs gives him some room in which to play. Chut da bol, Alexis, chut da bol, Chilean.
Messi will be looking for a higher-key Thiago celebration to eclipse the muted thumb-in-mouth acknowledgement after his Celtic goal.