It may have had the potential to be another one of those games, but let’s get straight to the point: this weekend, Mallorca enjoyed a solid, comfortable, and most importantly, convincing win over Malaga. Just when things seemed too good to be a true after such an impressive victory last week, it would have been typical for the team to let an easy game slip away and not take advantage of the position they found themselves in.
Instead, they did exactly what was asked of them. Malaga may have threatened early on but as soon as Webó found the net they assumed all control and the result was never in doubt. It may have looked an easy game on paper – and despite those nagging nerves, the expectation remained to win – but at times Mallorca have struggled to break teams down at home, so it was a relief to see a good performance and all three points. Noteworthy performances from Gonzalo Castro – ruled out due to injury before the game – and Pierre Webó were highlights; the latter’s goal-scoring form a real positive over the last few weeks.
The result leaves Los Bermellones sitting comfortably in sixth place – the European spots. It’s a situation they could have only imagined at the start of the season, after so much off-field turmoil, and with expectations low, but the team is defying all odds with its spirited efforts and its point to prove.
The more we see of the team, the more the question is raised: are they good enough to remain around those positions and contend for Europe by the season’s climax? Certainly, it’s not impossible. The team has thus far shown enough quality and there’s no reason to rule it out. But the table is close and even a few poor results could see Mallorca slip down as quickly as they have risen. Consistency is key here, and what the team has shown so far is a lack of it. We’ve already seen how unpredictable they can be, and this kind of inconsistency does not bode well in any potential race for the European spots.
The whole idea of Mallorca qualifying for Europe raises further interesting points. It would be a dream come true to qualify for the second season in a row, and an immeasurable gesture aimed at those who oversaw the expulsion from the Europa League at the start of the season. But it could also be a potential death sentence. That very expulsion brought to mind the idea that it may have perhaps been for the better, that it was a blessing in disguise. Given the size and consistency of the squad now, a European campaign in the near future may decimate what little depth there already is, and there is evidence aplenty in La Liga to show that Europe can be too heavy a burden for smaller clubs to cope with.
Regardless, whilst the temptation is there to get carried away, the team mustn’t allow complacency to set in. Despite such a fantastic start to the campaign, the priority is still to distance the team as far from the bottom as possible, and build from there. That job may be half done already, but if the team’s form were to reverse, it would be a different story. Nothing should be taken for granted.
Up next is a trip to the Madrid suburbs to play Getafe, a team who are enjoying mixed fortunes as of late. Incidentally, these mixed fortunes arise arguably due to their participation in the Europa League this season: one of the aforementioned warning signs for what may happen if Mallorca reach those heights? In any case, this weekend saw them repeat Mallorca’s feat from the last round of fixtures, as they, like Los Bermellones, inflicted a home defeat on the dipping Sevilla – let’s spare a small thought for Manzano – so they have proved that they can certainly be dangerous.
Before this, though, Getafe had been struggling. With the confidence that Mallorca’s recent upturn in away form brings, coupled with Getafe’s fatigue from their midweek Europa League exertions, there’s every reason to believe that the team should be able to bring at least a point back to the island. Following this they invite Racing Santander to the Iberostar Estadi, and like this weekend’s match against Malaga, the team should expect nothing less than a win. It’s a decent run of games that should see Mallorca get some more points on the board before a testing trip to Villarreal – which, like the encounter with Sevilla, will see Los Bermellones set out with a point to prove, given Villarreal’s role in the European affair over the summer.
Obviously, this is all on paper, and as the past has proved, it’s not always so simple in practice. But the momentum is there, and if Mallorca can keep that up, anything is possible.
- Phil M.