RCD Mallorca (16th, 5pts) vs FC Barcelona (1st, 16pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Monday
Competition/Round: 2023-24 La Liga, Matchday 7
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Frenkie de Jong, Pedri (out)
Mallorca Outs & Doubts: Antonio Raillo, Omar Mascarell (doubt)
Date/Time: Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 9.30pm CET (Barcelona), 8.30pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3.30pm ET, 12.30pm PT (USA), 1am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Estadi Son Moix, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Referee: Alejandro Muñiz Ruiz
VAR: Eduardo Prieto Iglesias
How to watch on TV: ESPN Deportes (USA), SuperSport (Nigeria), Sports18 (India), Viaplay Sports 2 (UK), Not Available (Spain), TSN 5 (Canada), others
Following an epic comeback against Celta Vigo at the weekend, Barcelona have no time to celebrate and are right back in action for their first and only road trip of September when they travel to the beautiful island of Mallorca to face Mallorca at Son Moix on Tuesday night.
Thanks to Atlético Madrid’s big Derby win on Sunday, Barça are top of the table for the first time this season and will be looking to protect their spot above the rest if they win this one, but while the three late goals and the emotional uplift from the victory on Saturday were certainly noteworthy and crucial for the team’s position on the table, there were some worrying signs from what we saw against Celta.
After two incredible 5-0 wins at home the Blaugrana were outplayed, outfought and outcoached by the Sky Blues for 75 minutes and seemed destined for a defeat before a miracle turnaround in the final 10. Celta played a back five, were physical in midfield and quick on the counter and frustrated the Catalans the whole night. That has always been the formula to give Xavi Hernández’s Barça problems, and there are very few teams who follow that strategy better than Tuesday’s opponents.
Even though they are off to a slow start this season, Mallorca were one of the Blaugrana’s toughest opponents on the road last season and deserved a lot more from that game, which was won by Barça thanks to a lone Robert Lewandowski goal. The Pirates will follow the exact same gameplan in this one, looking to be as physical and annoying as possible while remaining organized at the back.
Mallorca are truly impressive to watch on tape if you’re a defensive nerd: they perfectly walk the line between aggressiveness and tactical discipline, and it’s really hard to catch them out of structure. Even when teams play their very best attacking football the chances are few and far between, and efficiency is crucial to get a result at Son Moix where the crowd truly makes a difference when the home team is playing well.
This will be tough and physical, and anyone expecting an easy, pretty Barça win should be prepared for something entirely different. Mallorca won’t fight for Europe and might lose really badly to some other teams, but they are a truly brutal matchup for Barça and know exactly how to make it tough for the champions.
Get ready for a battle.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Araujo, Kounde, Balde; Gavi, Romeu, Gündogan; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Ferran
Mallorca (5-4-1): Rajkovic; Maffeo, Valjent, Nastastic, Van Der Heyden, Costa; Rodríguez, Morlanes, Samu, Darder; Muriqi
I am absolutely terrified about this one. Mallorca are physical, tough, and play a back five, and teams like that always make Barça struggle. I’ll still be optimistic and bet on the good guys, but I don’t feel too good about it: 2-1 Barça.