Following a taxing international interval with depletions in defense thinning Barcelona’s stacked squad, Xavi’s men make their way to the Son Moix where Mallorca host game week 7.
Date: Saturday, October 1st, 2022
Competition: La Liga
Match Day: 07
Venue: Son Moix
Time: 09:00 pm Central European Time (Barcelona)
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), Premier Player (UK), Movistar+ (Spain)
Taking a look at Mallorca’s play style, it’s safe to say Javier Aguirre’s men do not shy away from playing a direct and expansive brand of football, contrary to teams residing in the lower sections of the La Liga table – their swift build-ups and an ability to attack through the channels unsettles opponents frequently. Despite barely avoiding relegation last season, Mallorca impressively stand at 10th place in the league standings with two wins, two draws, and two losses thus far.
However, it’s important to look at the context here as the Los Pirates endured defeats versus Real Madrid and Real Betis, the only two significant challenges for them this season. With Barca heading into this game having won all encounters against Mallorca since 2009, this undeniably proves to be one of their easier games in this gruelling month of October.
The Catalans arrive unbeaten in La Liga with impressive numbers to boast of and authority on the road. In Barça’s last 5 league games, they’ve accumulated 18 goals, while only conceding 1. After a disappointing opener vs Rayo, it’s been a cakewalk for Xavi’s cavalry who’ll look to clinch another dominant victory.
Potential Line up:
Goal Keeper: Ter Stagen
The German international is expected to start in goal as he appears to be in terrific form and also impressed in the international break. He leads La Liga in the clean sheet department and has only conceded 1 goal so far.
With options limited in defense and Christensen offering himself as a reliable performer at the back, he’s expected to get the nod.
Centre-Back: Eric García
Gerard Piqué may present himself as a valid competitor, but looking at García’s outstanding form this season and importance as a distributor in the first phase, Xavi’s faith in the Spanish center-back appears likely. Having not played Spain’s last game, rest for him is also improbable.
Right-Back: Sergi Roberto
Despite facing a race against time, Roberto has regained fitness ahead of the encounter against Mallorca and is foreseen to start, with Bellerin, Araújo, and Kounde all unavailable. The Catalans’ performance and offensive output this season have looked bright, but questions over his defensive reliability will certainly persist.
Left-Back: Alejandro Balde
Marcos Alonso and Balde will inarguably be in contention to start this game, yet Balde’s excellent recent form and growing confidence may see him acquire the keys to the XI once more.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Busquets
Busquets missed Barça’s last game vs Elche and had relatively fewer minutes in the international break thus the veteran’s reliable presence in the XI is expected.
Central Midfielder: Kessie
In De Jong’s absence, the likelihood of Kessie starting consecutive games is certainly high. According to reports, the coaching staff has been impressed with his attitude in training. Moreover, the game vs Mallorca provides Xavi a good opportunity to rest the likes of Pedri or Gavi, who face draining opponents in October.
Central Midfielder: Pedri
Barcelona’s orchestrator in midfield and the most important figure is expected to start a majority of the games this season, but it may not be a far fetch to claim he is either replaced by Gavi or Kessie.
In spite of concerns over his fitness, Xavi claimed in his recent press conference that the Frenchman faces no troubles and thus should be in contention to start on the flanks. With Raphinha playing a large share of minutes for Brazil, rest may be provided to the Brazilian instead.
Left-Winger: Ansu Fati
Fati spent the international break working on regaining his fitness levels and according to Xavi, appears to be in good knick. He’ll likely be competing with Raphinha and Ferran Torres.
Up front, Lewa’s presence appears to almost be a no-brainer, unless Xavi decides to give him minutes in the second half and reserve him for bigger games ahead.
Goal Keeper: Ter Stagen
Defenders: Balde, Christensen, Eric, Robeto
Midfielders: Pedri, Busquets, Kessie
Forwards: Fati, Lewandowski, Dembele