Oh So Far Away: Mallorca – Barça

Liga Preview: Mallorca – Barça, Saturday 3pmEST, ESPN Deportes/360

What do you get when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? The Blob vs The Juggernaut? Well, we’ll see soon. Only once has someone gone into San Mames ONO Estadi in Mallorca and come out anything but losers: Sevilla on February 20. That day they won 1-3 after going down 1-0 to the Barralets, as they’re known. Will we be able to replicate this achievement? Well, there’s fantastic news for our side that can’t hurt our chances:

Oh please let me play!

That’s right, our metronome, Xavi, is back. He’s been given the medical all clear and I think he’ll get the start against Mallorca, though I imagine he won’t play the full 90 to keep him fresh for the Arsenal match in midweek. Gerard Pique is also back in the squad list, which is more fantastic news. We’ve now only got Abidal currently in the dry dock, though we’ll also be without Sergio Busquets, who felt the need to pick up another yellow card and get his butt suspended for this one. Great job, tweedle-dee.

We’re in for an intense match, regardless of who starts. Mallorca comes in with the third best home record in the league and they can claim to have the best home goals-allowed rate (0.54 a match — 7 in total). We’re next at 8, of course, but they’re an impressive outfit. Gregorio Manzano has them gunning for a Champions League spot (they’re currently in 4th, 2 points ahead of Sevilla), which is fantastic for a club with such financial troubles. Still, we’re going to knock them stupid. It’s a couple of days before a big European encounter and while this may sound ridiculous, we almost always play better leading up to an enormous game. Ask Valencia.

Away from home, Mallorca is pretty craptacular, with a 2W-5D-8L (12GF, 25GA) record. That’s 11 points from 15 matches. Ewww. But at home they’re 12W-0D-1L (43GF, 7GA). That’s actually more goals than we have scored either home or away (39 and 31, respectively). Pretty amazing stuff coming from a squad whose leading scorer is Aritz Aduriz. No offense to the guy, but he’s never really been all that good. Still, 9 goals in the league is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you consider that it means the team bangs in goals from all over the place. Mosquera has 6, Valero has 5, and Webó, Suárez, and Gonzalo Castro all have 4. That’s a fairly well-rounded deal.

Their last match was a 0-0 away draw at Racing Santander that, while an away match that could have nothing to do with their home form, puts them on their heels just a little bit as we come in. They’ll try to jam our middle and beat us to every ball, but they’re not very dirty, so they won’t be hacking us down at every opportunity like, say, Malaga (boooo Weligton). They’re 4th in the fair play standings, which says something about their class and style.

Moving on to us, here’s our squad list: Valdés, Pinto, Márquez, Milito, Pedro, Puyol, Jonathan, Bojan, Touré, Chygrynskiy, Maxwell, Xavi, Jeffren, Alves, Piqué, Iniesta, Keita, Ibrahimovic, Henry, Messi.

Note the inclusion of Jonathan Dos Santos instead of Busi. Otherwise it’s a fairly straightforward squad, which brings me to the predicted lineup:

Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell, Yaya, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Ibra, Messi.

I think we’ll see Keita starting on the bench again and coming on early in the second for Xavi. We’ll also see Henry in the front so as to avoid his inclusion in the Arsenal match on Wednesday since he totally doesn’t play two games in a row. Messi gets the start again since he’s red hot, even with his lack of a goal against Osasuna and Ibra needs to get more scoring chances under his belt before Wednesday as well, so that he’ll be fully ready to gnash some Gunner gobs to giblets.

We’ll be serious about this one and Guardiola isn’t going to mess around with some silly lineup while we’re visiting a major threat to our title hopes. Not that Mallorca will pip us to the title or anything, but rather that despite our having a whopping 71 points after 28 matches, every point counts immensely with 10 matches to go. 30 points left on the table folks. It’s on.

Official Prediction: 1-3. Yup. The Sevilla score, except that we’ll score 3 and then they’ll get their consolation to ruin our totally perfect day. Ah well.

Time: This match will kick off at 8pm local/Mallorca time, 3pm EST/NY time, check your local time here.
TV: In the US, this match will be on ESPN Deportes and ESPN 360.
Weather: ~63F (~17C), 0% chance of rain. Awesome conditions.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Dudes, I would start Pinto just for what he did the last time we played in Mallorca.


    Jedi mind tricks, I tells ya. I also love the cheesy ‘YAY!’ and the other sound effects 🙂

  2. “Still, we’re going to knock them stupid. It’s a couple of days before a big European encounter and while this may sound ridiculous, we almost always play better leading up to an enormous game. Ask Valencia.”

    Anyone remember how we did in our League game before the Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge this year? Ask Madrid 😉

  3. “Only once has someone gone into San Mames in Mallorca and come out anything but losers”

    isn’t San Mames the Athletic Club stadium? Mallorca’s is ONO Estadi I believe. Nice previer btw

  4. i see henry as a sub in both the next two games ….if we need an offensive sub, that is…

  5. Meh, I think Guardiola might rest Xavi for this one to be safe for Arsenal. i see Keita, Iniesta, Yaya midfield. And I really hope we start Henry instead of say, Pedro!, cause I think he’ll have a solid game.

    Could easily be wrong.

  6. I think Dani should force himself a yellow (I think he has 4), so that he can certainly play against EE.
    Xavi on 2nd half for 30-35 mins.

  7. Ha! So somehow the “delude” found its way from my comment into my handle. Whoa!

    90 miles today, and the footy fans in town all want to talk the beautiful game, when they see the jacket. Very fun.

    I think we draw this one, unless somebody has a monster match. I wouldn:t mind seeing me some Johnny Two Time.

  8. Isaiah,
    Though it will be nice to read some Kevin in not too distant future you’ve been kicking out the jams! preview/postgame/live-cast, plus job interview and March madness??
    My hat is off.

    We produce a mere mortal scoreline and victory of 2-1 (though I’m equally tempted to say 4-0 and 1-1) (42) Xavi (65) Messi

    I hope we can keep some of the raucous quality of the Xavi-less midfield. Cause Yaya was going al fondo de las mallas anyday…

    1. I’m glad you appreciate the effort, IceManCometh, but you can remove March Madness from your list. With the death of my Jayhawks came the death of my giving a crap until the Final Four. For some reason I’m taking it extra hard this year and have ignored the Sweet Sixteen completely.

      If Yaya scores tomorrow, you can guarantee that I’ll be over the moon. But, really, an goal will do that for me…(I celebrate Yaya goals in FIFA10 like they’re some sort of extraordinary event…sometimes I put him at center forward just to increase his numbers).

  9. *http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1261064/Lionel-Messi-Cesc-Fabregas-Gerard-Pique–forged-Barcelonas-hothouse-champions.html?ITO=1490

    Being a part of this fills us with pride of the highest order!

  10. Henry won’t start, he will be benched, still. and i dont think he will start against arsenal either, should probably come on as a sub. Pedro will still get the nod, so will JDS, Xavi will come on as a sub to clean things up. This is a tough one to win, we all know that. If we see the Ibra who would step the hell up, we will be more comfortable. But I will count on Messi for this 3 points, count on Valdes for the 1 point.

  11. Holy shit! 43 goals in 12 matches? That’s almost 3.6 per match. I didn’t know they are such an attacking force at home.

    If you combine all competitons, I think Mallorca is the second-strongest home side of all big European leagues (only got 2 losses this season, all other matches won – EE 1 loss, 1 draw). I don’t see any other side in Europe that can match this record.

    Xavi’s only had one complete training session so far, I doubt that he’s already at 100%. So my prediction is a draw, which means that we still do better than 85% of the previous visitors to the ONO Estadi.

  12. I’d leave Xavi on the bench and hope that we’re ahead so he could maybe get 20 minutes. Don’t want him playing against Arsenal without any time under his belt. I’d start with Yaya as DM, Keita and Iniesta along with Messi, Henry and Pedro up frontmaking sure that Iniesta plays a more CM role. This would let Pep see if Henry’s influence on our movement up front is genuine. Ibra can come on second half. If we’re losing he can’t be blamed and if we’re winning he gets to come into a side moving well so either way good for confidence and both he and Henry get some rest for midweek.

    Btw, I think tonight will be make or break for Maxwell in the side now that Abidal is nearing recovery. If he can take some confidence from his offensive displays recently and improve his defence against wingers running at him he’ll be putting pressure on Abidal when he returns and that can only be good for us as a team.

    I’m actually reasonably optimistic about this one. I’m more likely to get upset tomorrow if Atleti put on a Getafe like defensive performance.

    1. Well, isn’t it completely normal that Atléti doesn’t show up against the EE ANY TIME? Their president said some months ago “Real Madrid starts every season with a 9 point advantage over Barcelona – They always win both matches against us but we beat Barcelona in our stadium”…
      I don’t believe that Atléti will give them a fight tomorrow. They’ll probably lose by 3 or more goals.

  13. Looks like Wenger is resting Nasri and Arshavin (you could add Eboue as well)…

    I think Pedro! is going to start this match. Like Milito with Zaragoza last week, I think Pep will let Henry start against his former team. That way if he does contract David Villa-vs-Sporting-esque suckage, we can sub him off.

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