Els Barralets remain formidable at home, and they won’t expect to slip against los Periquitos...
Mallorca may not be anything like a super power in the Spanish game, yet over the last 14 months they have made their ONO Estadi home one of the toughest venues to visit in la Primera Division for opposing teams. Very rarely do els Barralets slip in front of their own fans, and coach Michael Laudrup will fully expect three points from the visit of Espanyol.
For anyone who though last season’s home form was sheer fluke, they would have been given a wake-up call on the opening day of the season, when the Balearic club pooped the party of new Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho by holding los Blancos to a scoreless draw on the Portuguese’s debut in the dugout. Victories over Osasuna and Real Sociedad, both 2-0, have since followed at home.
Laudrup has targeted an improvement in the club’s sluggish performance on the road, which has yet to come about, though a fine 1-1 draw against Barcelona prior to the international break suggests that progress is being slowly made. In the meantime, the Dane is tasked with maintaining the club’s remarkable performances at the ONO Estadi, as these have been the bedrock of their success.
“They still have a lot to improve,” the coach explained to the media on Tuesday. “We may have achieved a great draw at the Camp Nou, but we suffered two losses versus Sporting Gijon and Athletic Bilbao.”
With Spain’s strongest two clubs out the way, Mallorca can now focus on establishing themselves as a force in the top half of the table, and in order to achieve that, victory is required on Sunday.
However good Mallorca are at home, Espanyol are poor on the road. Over the course of last season, the Barcelona-based club picked up only a couple of wins away from the Cornella-El Prat, and when they did draw, it was generally by stifling their hosts to a 0-0. The early weeks of this campaign have not promised anything better, with three defeats from three away games.
Thankfully for coach Mauricio Pochettino, los Periquitos can get the job done at home, picking up a full complement of points in front of their own supporters, and he actually has a little reason for encouragement going by the Catalans three performances on the road this term.
In Villarreal, where Espanyol were humbled 4-0, the coach could justifiably argue that his side didn’t deserve to be on the end of such a stern beating, while refereeing decisions certainly counted against the Blanquiblaus as they were defeated 3-0 by Real Madrid. Against Real Sociedad, the Catalans defended well but succumbed in the dying minutes to an own goal.
No points therefore doesn’t mean no hope going into this game for Pochettino’s men, though they will certainly need a good dose more luck than they’ve had in recent away trips if they are to earn anything at one of Spain’s most formidable venues.
Dudu Aouate and Emilio Nsue have both been given the all-clear to play, leaving only Nunes as doubtful for the Balearic side.
There is some good news for los Periquitos going into the weekend in that Sergio Garcia has been passed fit. Carlos Kameni is said to be making good progress from his injury worries, but he will continue to miss out, as will Ivan de la Pena and Ivan Alonso.