Barca vs Mallorca: With the international break coming to an end, club football is ready to resume all around the world. Accordingly, the Catalan giants will return to action on away turf, against an ambivalent Mallorca side on Saturday evening.
Xavi’s team aims to start a long, difficult run of October, where we will face the likes of Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Villareal too, with a morale-boosting victory, while the more rested hosts will surely look to frustrate the Catalans and keep point(s) at home. Barca News Network brings you four key points ahead of the 7th matchday of the season.
1. A surprising opposition – or maybe not?
If we look at the table, we might be surprised that a Mallorca team which barely avoided relegation last season, now occupies the distinguished 10th place on the league table. With 8 points in the pocket, they have a perfect balance of their results (2 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses), which is not something you would have expected based on their performances from last season.
However, they are still not a proactive, progressive team, which reflects well on their expected goal difference (-4.6 in 6 games), around the relegation zone margin. Despite some slight improvements, their biggest strengths are still the quick counters and set-pieces. Not to underestimate it though, it still carries the danger and is surely something to watch out for, but it would be unwary to assign a significant improvement to Mallorca’s name based on the current standings.
2. Injuries in the national camps:
Speaking about ourselves, the international break decimated our squad as players like Ousmane Dembélé, Ronald Araújo, Jules Koundé, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, and Héctor Bellerín all suffered injuries and are unavailable for selection for periods of different lengths.
For example, Araújo suffered a serious injury in his right thigh, and he chose the slower but safer option and opted to undergo an operation in order to slowly but surely get back to full fitness. Thus, he will be sidelined for months, and is very likely that he will miss out on the World Cup participation with Uruguay.
But, if one door closes, another opens up instead. While all these injuries will surely affect the dynamics of the team, it opens up the opportunity for others to step up and show themselves. It gives an opportunity for the rotational, fringe players as well as for youngsters from the academy, which is always warmly welcomed.
3. What happens in the defense?
The most sensible absences are missing from the defensive section, namely the right-back and center-back positions. With Koundé and Araújo unavailable, we lost our best defenders from the heart of the defense, moreover, in Koundé we also lost our best right-back, and his obvious replacement in Bellerín is also out.
Still, fortunately, we have the likes of Eric García and Christensen to jump in and provide a similar performance in the heart of the defense. On the right flank, Sergi Roberto is also available, which could automatically secure him a place among the starters, especially if we take into account that he played fairly well this season when given a chance.
Furthermore, the slim squad size means an opportunity for the youth, and some names are circulating as if they can get a chance from Xavi this weekend. Maybe it’s not something for the long-term, yet it is always good to see new blood in the system, and which game if not this one would.
4. Barca vs Mallorca: A chance to break the curse:
Hearing the term ‘international break’, leaves us culés with a bitter taste in our mouths as it continuously proved to serve our frustration. Let’s just remember how last season ended, how the break cut off an incredible streak of success, and how it destroyed our great momentum.
Hopefully, the larger squad depth will ease the physical fatigue and divide the strain with the constant rotation of the team and unlock the option to replace injured or out-of-form players without major setbacks.
Hopefully, it will help the Blaugranas break the curse and start the post-international period with an encouraging victory. Visca El Barca.