Just A Bit More Revenge: Mallorca-Barça

Liga Preview: RCD Mallorca – FC Barcelona, Saturday 2pm, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com

Last time we played Mallorca, Xavi and Puyol were missing. And we drew 1-1 at the Camp Nou. This time, Xavi and Puyol are missing. But we will beat them. Or at least I hope we will because giving thems who art evil a chance to really get back in this league would be Bad with a capital burra. They’re no pushover, of course, so it’s not like we’ll stroll into what their official site is calling the club’s match of the year and walk out manita style winners. That’s simply not going to happen, no matter whether you all feel we’re “due” or not. It’s still February (and a drab day in that month at that, at least where I’m sitting).

For starters, we’ve got a light squad. We’re traveling without Valdés, Xavi, Puyol,  Jeffren (all injured), and Alves (yellow card suspension). And also: they’re pretty good. Laudrup’s teams like to attack and while they’re down 6 in goal difference on the year, at home they’re at +8. They’ve only allowed 8 goals at Son Moix (yes, dammit, I know it’s not called that) this year, which is pretty spectacular. And, (not so) incidentally, that’s exactly the number of home goals Barça has allowed this season. Which is why it’s spectacular (and not so incidental). They’ve only lost to 3 teams at home: Espanyol (0-1), Racing (0-1), and most recently Sporting Gijon (0-4) while they’ve won 7 including a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao and also drawn at nils with Real Madrid.

Back in early October, we put out a squad including Milito, Mascherano, Keita, and Bojan, some of which is possible tomorrow, but pretty unlikely. Alves will also be missing tomorrow, obviously, so it’s fairly certain that Adriano will start on the right. Because of that, I want Abidal to start on the left, meaning Pique partnering with either Milito or Fontas in the middle. Busi is also a possibility given his probably start against Arsenal in a couple of weeks and the need to keep our CBs healthy for the Valencia match on Wednesday (yeah, we have a midweek match: no rest for the weary). This could mean we see Afellay from the start in either the midfield or up front, but Guardiola appears to want his teams to work their way out of ruts with as many match minutes as possible. I can’t really argue with his results…

Squad Lists:

Mallorca: Lux (GK), Aouate (GK), Pau Cendrós, Nunes, Rubén, Martí Crespí, Corrales, Kevin, Ayoze, Aki, Pereira, Joao Victor, De Guzman, Martí, Castro, Tejera, Webó, Nsue.

Barça: Pinto, Adriano, Abidal, Maxwell, Piqué, Milito, Mascherano, Keita, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta, Villa, Messi, Pedro, Afellay, Bojan, Miño (31), Thiago (30) and Montoya (40).

They’re missing Iván Ramis and Víctor through injury while Pina, Sergi Enrich, and Tomeu Nadal are simply left out. They’ve also only got 2 strikers (Webo and Nsue), though you can argue that De Guzman, et al are forwards at heart in midfield positions. Whatever, it doesn’t much matter because they’ll probably line up Nsue in midfield with Webo over the top in a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-2-3-1. If this is the case, there’s an argument to be made for having Abidal at CB for his pace (Webo and Nsue aren’t slow, despite the latter’s hair), but I much prefer him on the wings against in-swingers that will be more dangerous than through-the-middle stuff and thus in need of more getting shut the F down by That’s-Monsieur-Abidal-to-You. And the F, kiddied, stands for Flatulence, of course.

There will be a lot of changes from the first “leg” of this matchup, as you can tell by the red Xs through missing players, so we’ll see how that affects the players and tactical approaches. I don’t think it will open up the game, but Villa’s presence could have a huge impact on how things go. Or he’ll simply also get kicked. Whichever.

Predicted lineup: Pinto, Adriano, Pique, Busi, Abidal, Mascherano, Thiago, Iniesta, Villa, Messi, Pedro.

Official Prediction: 1-2.  A nasty, hard fought game in which we are made to pay for every inch of ground we cover. Goals by Pedro and Messi. And you know RM are going to win against woeful Depor, so to keep our lead going strong we must win. And win we will ::flexes muscles:: ::eats spinach:: ::collapses on floor out of breath::.

Categorized as La Liga

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. I want Abidal to start on the left, meaning Pique partnering with either Milito or Fontas in the middle.

    Em, but Fontas isn’t in the match squad….

    I’m torn about Abidal. I would like him to start on the left, but I also want him rested and available for the midweek Valencia game. It seems to be the general consensus around here that you can play Abidal and Milito or Abidal and Maxwell, but not Milito and Maxwell. What about Busi and Maxwell, then?

    And I’m sure Deportivo can win against Real Madrid. They will just bore them to death! 😛

    1. EE are equally capable of boring Depor to death.. I think the only people who will be getting bored are the spectators, unless Kari starts to watch the game..

  2. This might well be a tie. It’s still February after all, and Mallorca is strong at home.
    Incidentally we play 5 games in 15 days, 3 of which are away and one of which is the crucial game vs Arsenal. As Guardiola said today, in the two upcoming weeks we play a huge chunk of the league and if we somehow survive it we’ll be halfway there. In this sense it’s not the worst news that Xavi and Alves miss this one. At least, I hope, they’ll be rested against Valencia, especially coming from 5 full days of no matches.
    The match vs Zaragozza is the one game where we simple must use a heavy turnover.

  3. great articles, both here & over at soccernet, isaiah.

    nsue has great hair. maybe not the most aerodynamic but that’s the price you pay for pretty. ;^)

    no cavenaghi, huh? i don’t know much about how his season has been going but i do know he was awesome over at bordeaux. i singled him out during barca’s last fixture with mallorca as the islander’s main threat.

    stannard on de guzman

    “Big hair and big performances from the Canadian midfielder are keeping Mallorca safely in mid-table despite the club being borderline bankrupt and forced to sell any footballer worth any money at any point. The former Feyenoord man was tempted to the Balearics last summer by coach, Michael Laudrup, with the midfielder looking to rebuild a once promising career that has been blighted by injuries. Ever since a sparkling display on the opening display of the season that helped hold Real Madrid to a goalless draw, De Guzman has been the star of the show for Mallorca in a year that many expected to see end with relegation.

    Mallorca’s constant need for cash to keep the lights on in the Balearics sees De Guzman’s stay at his current one being quite a short one if the midfielder keeps up his football form.”

    i’ve got an eye on valencia in midweek so i’m thinking busi starts in midfield tomorrow & not defense, especially since xavi is out.

    pinto, adriano, pique, abidal, maxwell, iniesta, busi, keita, messivillabojan.

    1. Say what? Bobo don’t speak Dutch…or English…or French….

      Masch, Pique, and Maxwell all speak English, though.

  4. in messi’s first trip to mallorca he comes on in the 83rd minute, we are winning 0-1, and he does this:


    his first career away goals in la Liga

  5. http://www.runofplay.com/2011/02/24/cantona-as-anti-hero/
    “But later, as I drove across Los Angeles, towards a ‘soccer’ match with my seven-a-side team, Gus, 34, a former Arizona State Quarterback, confessed that he too had never heard of Cantona! A Scotsman on the team, Gavin, simply leaned forward from the back seat, and said: ‘He kicked a fan in the face.'”

    ok i’m done spamming up this spot.

    1. Now that was worth posting!

      It tells us a lot about the corruption of Italian soccer, the power of (Libyan) money and the occasionally the farcical nature of Serie A in the age of Moggi and others.

      Note: Libya is currently ranked No. 70 in the world by FIFA.

      I loves me some politics, and I loves me some football, but I don’t usually love it when they cross paths. This, however, is kismet.

  6. -I would love to see sMasch starting. This match is suitable for him.
    Man, how many times have I said that about him???!! Hopefully Pep agrees with me this time.
    I see Keita starting though or Ibi.

    -Adriano will start at RB but I would love to see Montoya in at some stage of the 2nd half. We’ve seen Bartra at RB, now it’s time to see some Montoya action.

    -Guys, some of you want Busi to take the Xavi role in the future but I really wouldn’t like that to happen. Busi is just supernatural at DM.
    Changing his position to CM or CB and we will lose his amazing qualities at DM.

    -The Catalan people really rate Thiago highly. They want Thiago to start ahead of Ibi and Keita. I think it’s dangerous to start Thiago though but I would love to see MVP getting supplied by Thiago. Usually when he plays, the MVP doesn’t play so he doesn’t get to show off his through balls.

    1. The Catalan people really rate Thiago highly.

      Why do you say that? I love Thiago, but he is no more Catalan than Keita or Afellay. He is a great talent, though, and I hope he gets some minutes tomorrow.

  7. I was discussing Krkic with a cule on the Twitters, and just noticed that Krkic’s development/improvement slammed to a halt with the departure of …. wait for it …. Thierry Henry. Coincidence?

    1. I am never argumentative for its own sake. When I disagree I have a good reason for it, and I will back it up with what I consider my best reasoning. I do like a good discussion, though.

      Ya wanna fight about it? 😛

    2. T’was actually a serious question. Back at that time, many were noticing that Krkic was playing quite a bit like Henry with his movements, shotmaking and moves with the ball. Ideally, a young player learns from the veteran striker. Since Henry has gone, Krkic has nosedived, and doesn’t seem quite to know what to do.

      Perhaps he will develop into a Villa type, who offsets his lack of size and strength with movement, and never being where he can be hit.

    3. In a way I agree. Bojan is supposed to be a classic 9, but is there really a place for a classic 9 in Barca’s system? Messi plays best as a false 9, a sort of super-midfielder, with strikers on the left and right that he can coordinate with.

    4. In which case I would say that Cuddly at 20 should now be mature enough to learn from everyone who crosses his path, yet develop his own style. I hope he gets over this funk, but I’ve got to say that I’ve kinda lost all patience with him. I don’t mind him in there when the game is done and dusted, but not when the win is still in question.

    5. That time was a bit funny, as I remember people mentioning Bojan already as Villa’s eventual replacement in Spain. CT even played some matches with the national team, as crazy as it sounds now with his current form.

    6. I can remember quite well that there has always been a great chemistry between Bojan and Henry; when they were both playing at the same time and one of them scored, they always celebrated together and Bojan was usually the fastest to congratulate Henry or vice-versa.
      It might be a coincidence, but I’ve got a lot of beautiful play between Henry and Bojan in my mind, but not between Bojan and any other player…

      They did not only get along well on the pitch, but also off the pitch. Guess Henry was like a father figure for Bojan, AND somone who he admired for his style of play.

    7. i kind of see it. a second striker learning how to adapt to the left wing of barca’s system, bojan should have learned a lot from henry. & i think he did, a little. i remember pre-season two years ago krkic breaking out henry’s stutter steps in the box & being like wow! he’s the future on our left wing.

      if that’s the case, shouldn’t bojan be learning a lot from villa?

      gotta catch me some espanyol i mean clippers lakers now.

  8. Wishlist:
    Adriano, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell
    with 3M and Thiago getting major sub time!
    Dang, but Thiago really needs to regrow some hair!
    1-2 Messi Villa (please)

    This next month is gonna be one heck of a ride for better or worse! Time to buy manita ingredients!

  9. Some sad news.
    Andy van der Meyde retired from football.
    Man, the moment he announced his move to Inter, I knew it was a bad move.
    A lot of talented youngsters who went to Inter in the early millenia have disappeared of the radar. Inter was the worst place to go back then cause they kept on signing new players.

    He was a great no.7. winger, traditionally RW for Ajax. Too bad he chose the wrong club to further his career.

    Speaking f Ajax, did you guys know he played for Ajax? He was magical for them even at that age. Architect of the team. And great at free kicks too!

    1. Bojan and Henry is interesting, but you could also say the same for Eto’o and Bojan, no? They had a close relationship as well. You could also throw in the departure of Rijkaard as a possible factor. And it’s pretty obvious Bojan lost some confidence under Pep who has repeatedly said in the media he thought Bojan was “brought up too quickly” (coach translation: I’d send him back to Barca B if I could)

      I’d put this solely at the feet of Bojan. As much as he’d miss the experience of veteran strikers, he needs to up his game and I think he’ll come good in the long run (of course I think that, I lurrrrve Bojan after all).

      It is something to wonder about though

    2. I’d buy the Eto’o thing, but if you then watch an Henry video, you can really see Krkic doing a lot of the same stuff, particularly with his movement. Unfortunately, you just don’t see much Eto’o in his game. Most striking for me is the instinct that he’s playing with. That’s all gone, partly a consequence of our more deliberate style, which doesn’t give him a lot of broken-field running to do.

      And with all of Guardiola’s comments about believing that he was brought up too quickly, he has also lavished CT with praise and support in very public ways, time and again. So I don’t know that Guardiola has any culpability in this one.

    3. I still remember that goal in the vid where Bojan comes from the left, keeps waiting for the right time to shoot, and in a combination of chip and falling over tricks the keeper into diving the wrong way. If only his falling down would lead to goals this season!

    4. Oh how I miss that Bojan!!! The only way he can come out of this funk is by forcefully playing his way out if but as we can see he is in the dog house for a while. I certainly don’t mind seeing him against Zaragoza next week!!

  10. Pep said that he wont give up until he makes krkic a much better player than when he came in charge.
    Judging from busquets , pedro , messi , pique , abidal , I must put my trust in him.
    He made all these players much better during his reign , why not krkic who is a pure talent?
    Not everyones progress is a bright sharp straight line like messi , pedro and busquets.

    1. I tells ya!! Its a conspiracy ppl!! SAVE OUR HOMEBOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      *Waits for pictures linking Shakira with the rest of the clubs*

  11. call me pessimistic, but my prediction is 1-1.
    of cos, i hope we get 3 points, but i still predict 1-1.
    or 2-2. or 3-3.
    well, lets stick with 1-1.

    we will have to rely on Abidal alone if we wanna win. oh, messi too, oh maybe villa as well. oh what am i talking about, i am predicting a 1-1.

    1. What happened to you lately?
      Very few comments and the comments are not as technical as it was last time.

  12. Because of the injuries/suspensions this could be our toughest match in a while, for valencia we will have alves back, possibly xavi and valdes might also make it, so for now this is the big one.
    I think Milito will start today, Adriano needs to be extra special to compensate for alves’s absence and give messi the support he needs, however Mallorca seem to suffer the February blues as much as we do, they have lost a lot of points recently, although their most recent home match saw them win 1-0 over bilbao.
    i expect a win, but a hard earned one, something like 0-1 or 1-2, lets hope messi got enough rest and is ready to go.

    1. At Messi’s age a week is way long enough without a game. I think he’ll be pretty fired up. The most important factor for me is who Iniesta gets for support in midfield. I hope it’s Busi with probably Masch as DM ( although he can’t afford another game where we struggle when he starts, for his own sake).

      There’s a bit of me wonders if it might be worth moving Pedro back to midfield just for this one. He has all the ball holding and passing skills and knows the system backwards plus he brings the energy for pressing and the ability to carry the ball from midfield. However, I realise that’s unlikely, partly as it would mean giving Bojan a start up front. Personally, I’d give him the nod because, as Kxevin says above, he revels when the play is slightly broken up and he can pounce on half chances. With our passing game maybe disrupted a little with the absence of Xavi it may be that we need that sort of scrappy goal to win this one.

  13. Meant to say – for any sake Maxwell have a go at them tonight if you get the chance. We can’t afford a dead wing and you can do it.

  14. My lineup

    Adriano Pique Masch Abidal
    Afellay Busi Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Villa

    Basically we compensate for Alves by playing both Pedro and Afellay on the same side. And its about time we tried Masch at CB.

    1. Frankly i think there isn’t a good time to use Mascherano as a CB.
      We never tried him there, i think an awefully aweful Milito is much better than sMach at that place.

  15. I think I’d also like to see Pique start to lead the defence tonight. I loved it in a recent match when he lost it near the start with his colleagues when he was left to mark three men at the back post himself. He needs to step up and assume the mantle. Maybe Pep should have a word with him. Longer term he has to be the organiser in the defence.

  16. Long time not being on here now, its hard to get online from my phone and my laptop charger hasn’t been working past couple weeks. Hello everyone. My prediction 2-0.

    1. Yeah yeah. I came online now to ask people where you are.
      I thought you were busy with cricket.
      My friend in Bangladesh told me that they have a public holiday whenever Bangladesh is playing a cricket match 😆

  17. Guardiola:

    If one of them is out another will replace him, and if necessary, we can always use our reserve players for situations such as these. I even remember that last season we went to Calderon with Jeffren playing in defense.”

    Oh, we remember that too, Pep! Oy.

  18. If we would win as many matches as ManUtd does, despite playing absolutely horrific football, we would already be at 100 points in la Liga (which is impossible, but compared to ManUtds 60 points, we should have 100^^).
    I really don’t get it how this darned Mancurians get away with their poor perfomances so often…

    1. No , the funny part is when they criticize la liga , while they are top of the table , comfortably , playing shambolic football scraping wins..

  19. No B game feed, it seems. Oh, well the Bayern Munich/Borussia Dortmund game starts in a few minutes, that should be fun.

    1. Damn, I forgot Kagawa is out for the season.

      But otherwise, I feel like both teams will be fielding their strongest XI’s. If Bayern lose, catching Dortmund will be practically mathematically impossible, as far as they’re concerned.

      I like a lot of Bayern players, but I’m definitely pushing for the boys in yellow today.

    2. What a shame. Granted, I was really happy to see Japan win that tournament, but it’s also great for Japan to have players in league-topping teams.

  20. Min 30: Numanica-Barcelona B 0-1. Goal Soriano-barcastuff

    maybe i’m not over it. i keep feverishly refreshing barcastuff thinking something’ll pop up… 🙁

  21. Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Adriano Pique Abidal Maxwell – Iniesta Busquets Keita – Pedro Messi Villa

    1. Pretty much what we expected. I still hope we get to see Busi play a little higher. Villa’s hot, Messi’s hungry, Pedro’s due. Let’s do this thing!

  22. Barca B now up 3-2 over Numanica.

    This German game is terrific! I may have to start paying more attention to the Bundesliga.

    1. What a crazy first 20 minutes, huh? Things slowed down a little after that, but it’s endlessly entertaining when you watch two attack-minded clubs just trade blow after blow.

      Kevin Großkreutz looks like this guy I knew in highschool. Amazing how low the average age for this squad is.

      Their oldest player and Captain, Weidenfeller (30), is out with an injury. In his place, 22 year old Mitchell Langerak is making his league debut.


    2. Don’t, this is the cream of the crop, the other games are not even half as good as this one.

  23. Without Xavi available Barca won’t be able to control and shape possession in the manner they usually do.

    Under normal circumstance the club would just have to make adjustments. But today that makes me more concerned than usual do to the makeshift back line.

    Xavi and Dani are the two players much of Barca’s buildup occurs through. The two of them just play the ball so much in the offensive half.

    Having Xavi out in a game where Dani is already unavailable is particularly troubling.

    Barca will still control possession but it may not be to the degree they are accustomed to or with the precision they are used to.

    In turn, that means there will be more pressure on the back four to defend. The back line may be tested more than they usually are and it’s a makeshift back line at that. Turnovers in midfield will be something to watch as well.

    Mallorca is an aggressive team at baseline. I’d expect them to play that way today and look to press.

    Keita will do his job and do it professionally. This is a match where I would have preferred playing Afellay to add another player with strong skills on the ball in midfield.

    The left side of the pitch with Keita and Maxwell won’t need to be defended very strongly. Mallorca can afford to have it’s defense play in numbers in the middle and stay very compact there.

    But Pep likely thinks it’s still too early to give Afellay that kind of responsibility. It’s too bad. This was exactly the kind of match having a player like Afellay on the bench is a strong plus.

  24. AM v Sevilla is pretty fun y’all. And it has Ray. New Rayism about Reyes, “as cool as a cucumber seed in the fridge”

  25. Anyone got an English feed for the Bayern game? Mine went down, and I can’t find another good one.

  26. You just know a lot of our fate hangs on the display from Don Andres tonight. Bit worried about the quality of possession we get with Keita in the side and Xavi not. I wonder if he’s in there to cover for a more attacking Maxwell? I know . . . I’m delusional.

    1. I expect Messi to be a little more of a creative midfielder than a striker today within the scope of his false nine position. I would’ve liked some Masche in there with Busi moved forward but In Pep I Trust(mostly). 15 minutes to go: say your prayers, all!

  27. “First song that was played tonight at Mallorca’s stadium: “Loca” by Shakira”-barcastuff

    -that’s just mean.

  28. Streams dropping all over the place. This doesn’t bode well for watching the Barcelona game. 🙁

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