RCD Mallorca must beware of the banana skin this weekend as they travel to Gimnastic de Tarragona, seeking to put themselves in with a shout of second place and automatic promotion. Relegated Gimnastic will be a tough nut to crack having beaten Osasuna and Albacete at home already this season. Suspensions for key players for RCD Mallorca means it will be up to their replacements to step in and keep the performance level high.
Manager Vicente Moreno has demonstrated that he is an expert with super substitutions changing games for RCD Mallorca this season. He did so with devastating impact in the last two performances. Three weeks ago, RCD Mallorca emerged victorious from La Roseleda, beating Malaga 1-0 with a goal scored and set up by substitutes Leo Suarez and Abdon Prats. Just one week later, it was substitute Alex Lopez who swivelled and slid the ball past the Sporting Gijon goalkeeper with the last kick of the game to secure a 2-1 victory.
Moreno will need to rely on his squad even more on Sunday with key players Antonio Raillo and Dani Rodriguez missing from the spine of the team. Raillo, subject to a rejected offer from Nottingham Forest in the winter window, has been critical to the mean Mallorca defence which has conceded only 33 goals in 37 games so far this term. Likewise, Dani Rodriguez will be a huge miss for the Vermillion in both attack and defence. The quality and energy of the box to box central midfielder will be sorely missed.
Returning to their old Stomping Ground
Saturday sees a number of RCD Mallorca players and staff returning to their former club, Gimnastic de Tarragona. Manager Vicente Moreno returns to the place where he secured a fantastic promotion to the Segunda with the Tarragona side in 2015, finishing runners up to Real Oviedo. Lago Junior, Manolo Reina, Xisco Campos and Alex Lopez, all (with the exception of Lago) brought to the club by Moreno, return to Gimnastic once again.
For the first time in the season, RCD Mallorca are now seen as favourites, there to be shot down by the rivals. The role of the underdog has long gone following their incredible run since the Christmas break which has seen them add crucial away wins to their repertoire. The pressure has shifted from the opponent and onto the Vermillion as they now chase an automatic promotion place.
Similarly, the pressure of relegation has now been removed from Gimnastic. There are 5 games remaining and 15 points on the table for Gimnastic to fight for with a gap of only 13 points to safety. However, by virtue of the fact that both Real Majadahonda and Numancia have still to play Reus, they find themselves mathematically relegated. The pressure that they will have felt in every game this season to compete and fight for every ball has dissipated with their exit into the Segunda B. That can often bring a more relaxed approach and players may not feel suffocated by the expectation. Make no mistake, Gimnastic will be a very tricky game this weekend, despite their league position.
Son Moix on the Peninsula
This weekend will see RCD Mallorca fans turn the Nou Estadi into a mini Son Moix on the Spanish peninsula. There are thought to be up to 500 Vermillion supporters who are making the trip to Tarragona to support the team. This will give the side an undoubted lift and help them to recreate the vibrant atmosphere seen at Son Moix in the crucial game last week against Sporting Gijon.
Real Mallorca Team News – Suspensions Hit
Antonio Raillo and Dani Rodriguez are both suspended for tomorrow’s game having accumulated 10 and 5 yellow cards respectively. Both will be a huge miss for the side, but their absence is an opportunity for someone to step up. We are most likely to see Xisco Campos return at central defence against his former club for Raillo, with his experience preferred for such a crucial game over youngster Pablo Ramon. In midfield it remains to be seen what Vicente Moreno decides. He may opt for the safe option of Baba, or the more attacking option of Stoichkov to replace Dani Rodriguez.
Pervis Estupiñan has announced his return to training this week on his twitter. It is unclear whether he will be fit to start, but his return will boost the side as he brings goals to the side as well as his robust defending at left back.
RCD Mallorca are on a hot streak and remain unbeaten in 5 games (1 victory awarded vs Reus) following their last gasp victory over Sporting Gijon last week. They have now suffered only 1 defeat in 12 games. The away form across the season has been poor, but recent victories at Las Palmas and notably at Malaga will give them the confidence that they can take all three points.
Gimnastic have only 7 wins all season but 6 of those have come at the Nou Estadi (including one awarded vs Reus). However, three of their victories have come against promotion chasing teams, including run away leaders Osasuna, third place Albacete and play off hopefulls Real Oviedo.
With the wind gone from the sails of the Gimnastic survival effort and 500 RCD Mallorca fans in attendance, I expect Mallorca to grab hold of this opportunity to put pressure on the top six and win the game. Xisco Campos will be playing against his old club as a replacement for Raillo and will rise to the occasion with a captain’s performance.
Gimnastic 0 – 2 RCD Mallorca
The Top Six
Second placed Granada kick off the Segunda weekend tonight home to lowly Tenerife. Anything but a victory would put real wind into the sails of the chasing Albacete and RCD Mallorca. Albacete must wait until Sunday and will know how Granada and RCD Mallorca have fared when they kick off. They face a tricky away game to relegation threatened Rayo Majadahonda. Cadiz in 5th visit Deportivo La Coruna in 6th with fans of the Vermillion hoping for a draw. One or both of these sides will be off the pace for the top two by the end of the weekend, a fixture RCD Mallorca must take advantage of.
Malaga have dropped out of the top six for the first time this season after their dismal run of only 1 win in 6. They have to wait until Monday night to face Real Oviedo when they could already be well adrift of the top six if results go against them. A draw in this game and results falling badly for them could mean that both they and Oviedo have a mountain to climb in the final four games. Sporting Gijon have to win every game between now and the end of the season to stand even a slim chance of sneaking into 6th position. They start that attempt with a home game against Lugo.
Correct Result 4/9
Correct Scoreline 1/9
CD Tenerife (a)
Predicted – Win
Result- 2-2 Draw
Elche CF (h)
Predicted – 2-1 Win
Result – 1-1 Draw
Real Oviedo (h)
Predicted – 1-1 Draw
Result – 1-0
UD Las Palmas (a)
Real Zaragoza (h)
Cordoba CF (a)
Predicted 1 – 2
Result 3 – 2
CF Numancia (a)
Predicted 1 – 1
Result 1 – 1
CF Rayo Majadahonda (h)
Predicted 2 – 1
Result 2 – 0
(Reina saved penalty)
Malaga CF (a)
Predicted 2 – 0
Result 0 – 1
Sporting Gijon (h)
Predicted 1 – 0
Result 2 – 1