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La Liga is finally back and FC Barcelona’s first game is a trip to RCD Mallorca on Saturday at 10.00pm CET. Time to take a closer look at the club, the players and their form.
WHERE ARE THEY FROM?
The Mediterranean island of Mallorca, visited by some 28 million mainly sun-seeking tourists every year, needs little introduction. The football club are based in the capital, Palma de Mallorca, with its wonderful cathedral and old town.
The Estadi de Son Moix, which replaced the former Estadi Lluís Sitjar in 1999, was given a new name this week. Barça will be the first team to play at what is now called Visit Mallorca Estadi, part of an active campaign to promote tourism in the island, and particularly at a time when the industry has been so severely hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The ground holds just over 23,000 people, although stadium capacity is obviously going to be meaningless for what remains of the season.
Founded in 1916, the first of many first division appearances for RCD Mallorca came in 1960, but they would not be a regular feature until they spent 16 seasons among the elite from 1997 to 2013, including their proudest hour of all, winning the Copa del Rey in 2003, with two goals in the final against Huelva scored by a man who would later be a legend at Barça, Samuel Eto’o.
In 2017, they dropped down to the third tier Division 2B, but the recovery has been spectacular. Two years later and they are back with the big boys!
HEAD TO HEAD
Back in the 1999-2000 season, Mallorca beat Barça both home and away, but in 26 league meetings since then, Barça have only lost to the islanders three times (and twice at home), although all of those were late season encounters without too much left to play for.
The most famous meeting between the teams was the 1998 Copa del Rey Final, which Barça won on penalties, the fatal Mallorca kick being missed by a former Barça player, Xabier Eskurza.
Earlier this season, in the first meeting between the teams for five years, Mallorca conceded five goals at Camp Nou for the third time in a row. Barça won 5-2, with Messi scoring three and Griezmann and Suárez getting the others.
So far, Mallorca’s return to the top flight has not been too triumphant. Beating Real Madrid 1-0 has been the biggest highlight, and in their last game before play was halted by Covid-19 they got their first away win of the campaign, 2-1 at Eibar. Indeed, the interruption came just when they were starting to find some kind of form, leaving them just one point away from escaping the the relegation zone.
Most capped internationals: Aleksandar Trajkovski (North Macedonia, 54), Baba Rahman (Ghana, 28), Lumor Agbenyenu (Ghana, 13), Takefusa Kubo (Japan, 7)
Barça connections: Takefusa Kubo spent four seasons at La Masia in his youth. After returning to FC Tokyo he eventually joined Real Madrid last summer, who have sent him on loan to Mallorca.
Top scorers 2019/20: Croatian Ante Budimir with 9 / Daniel Rodríguez with 5
Vicente Moreno spent almost his entire playing career at Xerez. In the twilight of his career, it was his goal that won the club their first ever promotion to la Liga in 2009. He finally got to play first division football at the age of 35.
Soon after retiring he became manager of the club, followed by three years at Gimnastic Tarragona. Two years ago, he took over at Mallorca, a shadow of their former selves down in Division 2B. With the team now playing games at the Camp Nou in La Liga, there’s no denying that he’s done a pretty good job!
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