Els Barralets host resurgent Depor on Sunday...
Worries that Mallorca could be sucked into a prolonged relegation battle following a traumatic summer have been allayed somewhat as under the charge of Michael Laudrup they have started well, but they must defeat Deportivo La Coruna at home on Sunday if they are to maintain their positive momentum.
The Dane has stepped into Gregorio Manzano’s shoes at the Iberostar Estadio and has largely done an excellent job fitting together the remnants of the squad left by the now-Sevilla coach with fresh faces who are eager to prove that last season’s lofty finish was no fluke. While the likes of Borja Valero and Aritz Aduriz now star elsewhere, Mallorca still have talent at their disposal.
It wasn’t his side’s technical qualities that impressed Laudrup on Thursday evening as they fought to defeat Racing de Santander 5-3 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey, rather it was the relish with which they played the game. Starting the fixture with a 3-1 advantage, the Islanders raced into a 2-0 lead on the night, making their task to progress simple, even if they were ultimately pegged back to 2-2.
“We started the match as if it were 0-0,” the former Getafe coach enthused after the game. “We came out strong, but after that maybe we dropped a little and let Sporting back into the match. However, the attitude of the players has been phenomenal, in both matches.”
Mallorca will have to show similar appetite to defeat improving Depor on Sunday.
On The Up
Deportivo La Coruna are a side just emerging from the dark. Miguel Angel Lotina’s outfit made a nightmare start to the campaign, going through their first eight matches winless, scoring only three goals in the process. Just as the alarm bells started to ring around the Riazor, there has been renewed cause for hope of late.
A crushing 3-0 home victory over Espanyol gave Super Depor some much needed momentum, which was continued against Levante in their following league game. Goals from Riki and Aythami helped the Galicians to a valuable 2-1 victory, moving them clear of the bottom three spots.
The thrust was continued on Wednesday evening as Lotina’s men eliminated Osasuna from the Copa del Rey. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Depor moved into the ascendancy at the Riazor just after the break when Riki struck, and though Dejan Lekic promptly levelled, a goal from Lassad took the north westerners through.
Four matches unbeaten in all competitions, there are distinct signs that the Spanish champions of 2000 are finally getting their act together. This group is never likely to be prolific and exciting, but if they can be organised and solid, they will pose questions to each opponent.
Sergi Enrich and Ayoze are back training with the squad and should be available for selection if required. Marti Crespi is the only player to have picked up a midweek bang, and he wasn’t present at training on Friday.
Alberto Lopo retired from training early on Thursday due to a tight hamstring, though the indications are that he will be able to feature on Sunday without any problems. The same goes for Morel and Ze Castro, who were also struggling due to tight muscles following the midweek match.
Knut Olav Rindaroy is rated doubtful, while Andres Guardado is still the major absentee as he continues to battle hamstring problems.