RCD Mallorca and Malaga CF open the La Liga 2 schedule tomorrow afternoon at La Rosaleda deadlocked on 58 points. Both teams will be seeking a crucial victory over their closest rival in the table as the games slowly tick away towards the conclusion of the season. RCD Mallorca fans will be wondering, hoping and dreaming that the side can rise to the challenge.
Throughout the season the squad have been on message when asked about promotion, and continue to play their cards close to their chest. However, the rhetoric has changed slightly this week with manager Vicente Moreno speaking positively of the excitement of these big games. RCD Mallorca fans would all agree that it is good to be facing games at the top end of the Segunda Division once again and will be hoping for an extension of their season into July.
To achieve that the side will need to overcome some large barriers in their way. After bringing themselves one step closer last Saturday against Rayo Majadahonda, they came away with the minimum requirement of 4 points from their last two games against relegation threatened sides. Now the serious challenge begins as the side prepares to face their last 7 games, 5 against promotion rivals and 2 against sides who are facing the drop.
Vicente Moreno will complete the final game of his three game touchline ban at La Rosaleda and may just decide to stay in the stands if RCD Mallorca can achieve a positive result. The side are unbeaten in the last two games in which he has been absent from the sideline. Coincidentally he was also banned from the touchline in the corresponding fixture at Son Moix, where Malaga won with a late goal.
Sometimes a run of tough fixtures can be a blessing in disguise and leads to players raising their game. Fans of the Vermillion will hope this to be the case, particularly away from home where they face a series of daunting games starting tomorrow against Malaga. Time will tell whether this period is the beginning of the side’s ascension, or when the foundations of what they have fought so hard to build across the season begin to crumble.
Malaga CF: Changes at the Top
Malaga CF are back in the Segunda Division following a ten year spell in La Liga. On their return they were widely tipped to be front runners for the title, and their early form was strong, winning their first five on the bounce and losing only one in the first nine games. However, they slowly fell away from top spot and their current run of poor results, with only 3 wins in the last 3 months, spelled the end for Juan Ramón López Muñiz.
In came Victor Sanchez Del Amo following an absence from the bench of almost two years since his sacking by Real Betis. The impact was immediate as they scored four goals for the first time this season in beating Alcoron last week. RCD Mallorca will be hoping for both their prospects tomorrow and their longer term play off hopes that this is not the beginning of a juggernaut changing its’ path.
Real Mallorca Team News
Pervis Estupiñan has not travelled with the squad due to injury. Two of the Gamez, Sastre and Ruiz trio will take the field at full back. Stoichkov is preferred in the squad over out of favour Alex Lopez but his inability to finish numerous opportunities in the second half last week is unlikely to press Moreno into rewarding him with a start in such a crucial game. Vicente Moreno has a full strength complement of midfielders to choose from and I don’t expect him to spring any surprises now that Aridai has fought off the challenge of Leo Suarez for the starting spot. Ante Budimir’s place is under threat from Abdon Prats as the Croatian continues to struggle with his form after a blistering start to his RCD Mallorca career.
RCD Mallorca are one of the form sides in Spain with only 4 defeats in 2019, all away from home. However, the Vermillion have only tasted victory outside the island on three occasions this season; Rayo Majadahonda (0-1), Reus (0-2) and Las Palmas (1-2). Their last two away games have been dismal performances to Cordoba, where they fell to defeat, and Numancia where they salvaged a draw with a stoppage time goal from Salva Sevilla.
Malaga CF have won only three times in three months, but crucially one of those was 4 – 1 last time out away at Alcoron in their first match since Sanchez Del Amo’s appointment. You have to go back 7 games to January since they last tasted victory at La Rosaleda. The bumper home crowd, expected to be 25,000 and swelled by a tickets for 5€ promotion, will be nervous.
Prior to Malaga CF’s departure I would have fancied RCD Mallorca to take something from La Rosaleda. However, with the new manager bounce in their favour, on the back of scoring 4 goals last week against Alcoron and RCD Mallorca’s dismal away record, I can only see defeat. Much has been said in the press about turning around the goal average vs Malaga in case of deadlock on points on the final day, personally I feel a point would be an outstanding result. RCD Mallorca have shocked us away from home before this season, so let’s hope they can resurrect the ghost of Las Palmas.
Malaga CF 2 – 0 RCD Mallorca
The Top Six
2nd place Albacete Balompie are away to top side Osasuna. Every team in the top six will be hoping for Osasuna to run away with the league and take points away from their rivals in reach of second place. On Sunday, Granada have a seemingly straightforward tie at home to Gimnastic, with Cadiz having a tricky looking visit to Rayo Majadahonda.
Deportivo La Coruna have the opportunity to cut the gap to 6th position and put the pressure on with their Friday night game against Numancia. Next week’s opponents Sporting Gijon are home to midtable Elche. Real Oviedo still have an outside chance of 6th position and host Almeria who are just a point behind them. A draw would likely end both side’s hopes of making the top six.
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)