RCD Mallorca (10th, 8pts) vs FC Barcelona (2nd, 16pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2022-23 La Liga, Matchday 7
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Héctor Bellerín (out)
Mallorca Outs & Doubts: Amath Ndiaye, Dominik Greif (out), Tinotenda Kadewere (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 1, 2022, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Visit Mallorca Estadi, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano
VAR: Santiago Jaime Latre
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 5 (Canada), Premier Sports 2 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Sports18 (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
Following a long (and costly) international break, Barcelona return to action to begin a crazy October as they travel to beautiful Palma de Mallorca to meet Real Mallorca for some Saturday night La Liga fun.
The next 30 days bring us a total of nine games, all of them very important as Barça look to keep pace with Real Madrid in the league and qualify for the Champions League knockout stages. They face Inter Milan twice over the next 10 days and it certainly feels like those two games will decide the Blaugrana’s European fate, and right after the second Inter match there is that little, unimportant thing called El Clásico.
(Oh, and they also face Bayern Munich in October. And Villarreal. And Athletic Bilbao. And Valencia away. Wait, who made this schedule?)
It is no exaggeration to say that October might just be the most important month of the entire season. Barça might find themselves quite a few points behind the leaders and in real danger of going to the Europa League for the second straight season if things don’t go well, and such a tough, busy calendar coupled with all the injuries make that doomsday scenario not all that unrealistic.
Xavi Hernández has mostly passed the big tests as Barça boss since taking over, but the next four weeks will truly test his coaching acumen. Rotating the squad while still fielding strong teams for every game and putting together winning gameplans against really good opponents time and time again is an enormous challenge for even the very best, most experienced managers in the game. Xavi hasn’t proven himself as one of the best yet, and is certainly not experienced.
We’ll learn a lot about the boss this month, but the players also must step up. The first six weeks of the season have been very good, with six wins in eight games and a near perfect start to the La Liga campaign. The new signings have fit well, the confidence is high and most of the injured players will return sooner rather than later. The team is in solid shape, and now it’s time to show what they’re made of.
Mallorca have made a good start to the season and were a very tough opponent for Real Madrid at the Bernabéu for the first 60 minutes of their encounter a couple of weeks ago (don’t let the final score fool you). They are well coached and have talented attacking players, and only Real Betis have been able to win in Mallorca so far this season.
This won’t be easy, and it’ll be just a taste of what’s to come. Barça must set the tone for the month ahead, and keep their confidence high with a strong performance and a good win.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Christensen, Eric, Balde; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembélé
Mallorca (3-5-2): Rajkovic; Valjent, Raillo, Nastasic; Maffeo, Sánchez, Battaglia, Rodríguez, Costa; Lee, Muriqi
Mallorca will play a back five, press high, and counter-attack with pace. It’s pretty much the formula to make things very tough for Barça, but I still believe they’ll find a way to get all three points: 2-1 to the good guys.