Real Mallorca v FC Barcelona
La Liga, Jornada #25.
Watch live on Sky Sports 4 from 6.55pm.
Víctor Valdés. Xavi Hernández. Carles Puyol. Jeffrén Suárez. All four of these players have not made the plane to Palma. All with ‘knocks’. Particularly in the case of goalkeeper Valdés does it seem that Barça have more than just one eye on the return Champions League tie with Arsenal in just over a weeks time as no one seems to know what is wrong with him.
Usually, I’m quite the pessimist and would expect an easy Barcelona victory. But with Barça also missing the suspended Dani Alves, I’m not quite so sure.
Talk of Barcelona in crisis is ridiculous. Infact, it is in itself a testament to how fantastic the Catalans have been this season that a draw against Sporting with an understrength side and a very unfortunate 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates is considered a crisis. Especially considering they beat Athletic Club 2-1 last Sunday. But all the same, against Sporting, Barça showed that they do have a perilously thin squad. And when the nucleus isn’t there – they struggle.
For all his faults, Michael Laudrup has proved he is a natural tactician. It is the one consistent theme of the season. And he has also proved he knows how to play against the big two with Mallorca being the only side not to be beaten by Barça or Real in the first round. And in the second round, he saw out a close 1-0 defeat against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. Whilst Real were far and away the better side (lets face it – no one expected Mallorca to come close), the away side could have come away with one or even all three points on another day.
But for all the talk of how weakened Barcelona are when without their nucleus, the same can be said for Los Bermellones. And the fact they will still be without key defender Iván Ramis is a major blow to their chances. Laudrup will also be without Tomás Pina, Sergi Enrich and Tomeu Nadal who are all required for B team action.
It will be a tough ninety minutes, that is for sure. But if Laudrup’s side could frustrate Barça and hold them to a 1-1 draw in the Nou Camp, could they possibly do the same to a weakened Barça team at the Son Moix?
Cendrós – Nunes – Rubén – Kevin
Martí – Joao Victor
Nsue – de Guzmán – Pereira
Goalkeepers: Aouate, Lux.
Defenders: Cendrós, Nunes, Rubén, Martí Crespí, Corrales, Kevin, Ayoze.
Midfielders: Aki, Pereira, Joao Victor, de Guzmán, Nsue, Martí, Castro, Tejera.