Foto: Martín Comas
With only three months of the season remaining, Mallorca’s away record of only 11 points in 13 games, scoring only 9 times, is a mystery to most who watch at Son Moix. The fact that the side has managed to stay in contention for a play off place with such weak form away from the island is an achievement in itself. So where exactly has it been going wrong for Mallorca on their travels this year and what can they change in their final games to make the difference?
This Friday, Mallorca makes the trip to Tenerife in search of only their second victory on the road, even having had that achievement Vs Reus removed from them with the side having all of their results removed from the record recently by the league. It really is make or break time and it is clear that, without a change in fortunes away from home, we will need other teams to make mistakes in order to reach the play offs.
Goals and Possession
Goals have been hard to come by, only 9 on the road. But why such a difference between Son Moix and on our travels? At Son Moix the team plays on the front foot, the full backs push forwards and Salva Sevilla has opportunity to get onto the ball. The attack builds slowly and the team moves up the pitch as a unit. This is in complete contrast to away from home where our front players often look isolated and Vicente Moreno has experimented with different forwards with no change.
What has been missing at all times has been a centre forward comfortable in a battle, relishing the fight with the defender and actually having some success in that respect. Throughout the season Alex Lopez has been willing but far too often loses out, battling is not his strength. Add to that that when he does lose out he often fouls and gives clean possession right back and the opposition are back on the attack. Abdon Prats has not had much opportunity, but his lack of mobility makes it difficult for him to play such an isolated role up front when away from home.
Solely replacing a player though won’t bring about the necessary change. Ante Budimir has the necessary qualities to change our fortunes away from Son Moix but must be joined quickly by advancing players. The inability to build a solid platform from which to play has been a repeated issue. Budimir will win it, now others just need to join the party. If Lago and Salva can get close to Budimir then they will look after the ball and the team can build from there.
Possession is next, when you have won the right to play, then you must create. Mallorca fans will be just as frustrated as me watching the team for 90 minutes away from Son Moix and seeing an opposition goalkeeper rarely troubled and defenders more concerned with pushing forwards than worrying about Lago Junior. One player Vs 3 or 4 defenders will never prevail. Players must commit forwards to receive the ball from Budimir and secure possession. The key to this is another of the new signings in the January transfer window.
Leo Suarez showed this Sunday his ability and bravery on the ball, something needed more than ever away from Son Moix. In the previous away game he had looked isolated and unfit, struggling in difficult circumstances. Tenerife will be a very different beast and he will have ample opportunity, if allowed by the coach, to make his mark. Aridai would be a selection based only in sentiment. Although it was his hard work that gave way to Suarez in the final twenty minutes at Son Moix, the end product shown by Suarez was in sharp contrast to that of Aridai.
The modern player rests in possession and getting, then keeping the ball will be critical on Friday night. Not only does it allow the players to rest, it allows them to keep the pressure on their opponent and more of the ball should bring more opportunities for the attacking players. As Mallorca has shown, they can finish and have goals from throughout the team this season, they just need to give themselves the platform to create the opportunities.
Cut out the Silly Errors
Easier said than done, and of course not a simple as just not making mistakes. However, the Mallorca side is littered with experienced professionals who have to start to manage the game better away from home. For example, Reina clearing his lines properly to at least the stands when pressured which led to the goal in Osasuna, Raillo risking a red card and suspension last time away from Son Moix Vs Albacete with a needless foul when the game had gone and better all round game management against a side with a player and sometimes two players less in Cadiz.
Of course, all three of these examples were difficult games where the pressure was high, but all three decisions cost Mallorca dearly. These are the moments when good professionals make good decisions and make a difference. Showing discipline in these key moments could be the difference between returning to the island with nothing or a point, a point or all three.
With all of the above in mind, I’m putting my reputation on the line and tipping Mallorca for victory on Friday night. Tenerife have scored only two goals since December 4th, those at home to bottom side Gimnastic. That means that if Mallorca can score, they should be confident of coming home with at least a point. The first goal is crucial, let’s hope that Mallorca can get it.