Mallorca return to home sweet home at Son Moix this Sunday, with what is a must win game in the race for the top six against mid table Elche CF. The away form of the Vermillions continues to heap pressure upon their performances at Son Moix, particularly in games such as this where the league standings suggest that nothing other than a Mallorca victory is possible.
Elche CF are currently sitting as close to mid-table points wise as is possible in the concertinaed Segunda division, 9 points from the drop zone and 12 from the promotion play off. Far from seeing this as a comfortable outing, Mallorca should underestimate this opposition at their peril. Teams approaching safety sometimes arrive with a risk free attitude towards the end of the season and Mallorca must be aware of the danger Elche CF pose, despite their lowly position. Four goals in their last three away games suggests that Elche CF could do damage if given opportunity. It would be easy to take this result for granted and have one eye on the crucial clash Vs Real Oviedo in a week’s time.
Stop the Cross to Stop the Goals
What is certain is that Mallorca will need to defend the high ball better than they have of late. Whilst the Vermillion have not conceded a home goal for almost three months, a worrying trend is emerging when Manolo Reina’s goal is breached. Both of the goals last time out against CD Tenerife came from poorly defended crosses, as did the opener at Albacete and the equaliser conceded away in Cadiz. The only goal in the last three away games not to come from a cross was the late penalty at Albacete that saw Antonio Raillo’s petulant push lucky to escape without the punishment of a red card.
Goals conceded from crosses stem from one of three places, in some cases more than one is in play. Firstly the goalkeeper, is Reina commanding his box, claiming crosses when he can and organising his defence. At least one recent goal has come from a Reina spillage. Despite this, his form in the trip to CD Tenerife was the only thing stopping the home side from taking all three points. Secondly, defensive headers, are we winning them and if so are we getting the ball sufficiently clear of the danger zone. Despite their other strengths, Raillo and Martin Valjent have question marks over them in this aspect of their game. Finally, the most effective way is to stop the cross in the first place. Full backs need to be close to their winger leaving no time for the ball to be delivered. Away from home, where these goals have come, Mallorca’s wingers have been playing so deep that they should be there to double up and support their defensive partner. Lago Junior and Ariday Cabrera have a part to play.
At this time more than ever Mallorca need an off the peg home performance. Their away form is continuing to put immense pressure on the results at Son Moix and this will only increase as the season continues in the race for 6th place where every point, and possibly every goal matters.
Elche CF’s form away from home is almost identical to the away record of Mallorca. This, combined with the fact that Mallorca will have the second best home record in the division if they win on Sunday, only behind that of leaders Osasuna, will not cause concern to supporters of the Vermillion.
Elche CF’s leading scorer Sory Kaba, with 8 goals, departed to Dijon of French League 1 in the transfer window. However, this hasn’t curbed the tide of goals. Elche CF average around a goal a game both home and away, the deciding factor in their poorer away form being the number they concede. Mallorca may need two goals to win as Elche CF have scored in each of their last six away games, including their recent visit to Granada who occupy a play off spot. Goals haven’t been a problem at home for Mallorca though with 8 in their last four home games with none conceded in that time.
Mallorca Team News
Following a failed appeal against Pervis Estupiñan’s sending off last time out he will be suspended, Salva Ruiz will replace him after four months out injured. The partnership that Estupiñan has forged with Lago Junior in attack and defence will be a challenge for Ruiz to replicate. Striker Nikola Stojiljković has been ruled out for two months through injury in his cameo performance in Tenerife, although he was unlikely to feature from the start. Mallorquinistas will have everything crossed that Dani Rodriguez and Lago Junior return to fitness having missed training this week. The pair were responsible for all three goals in the last home outing.
Elche Team News
Elche CF’s centre forward, Neyder Lozanao, is a doubt returning from injury and may not be up to full speed if he does make the starting line up. Defender Sergio Tekio is suspended having reached the limit of yellow cards in the previous game. Carlos Castro, on loan from Mallorca, is unavailable due to Mallorca being his parent club. Elche CF would have to pay Mallorca extra in order for him to appear at Son Moix. Since the loan began in the January window, he has appeared twice, both times coming off the bench.
Provided Lago and Dani are fit, I am predicting a win for Mallorca. We won’t have it all our own way and I believe that Elche CF will be the first team to score at Son Moix since Málaga in early December.
Final score prediction: Mallorca 2-1 Elche CF
CD Tenerife (a)
Predicted – Win
Result- 2-2 Draw
Elche CF (h)
Predicted – 2-1 Win