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Real Mallorca: Beaten but unbowed: Monro´s match verdict

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Real Mallorca made such an impression on Saturday night, making Barcelona fight all the way to the final whistle, that most of the 18,103 crowd in the Son Moix (some had unbelievably left before the end) stood to a man, woman and child to give the exhausted players a standing ovation.

The Palma side’s dream of causing an upset lasted all of 20 minutes when “Killer” Robert Lewandowski scored a brilliant goal. Ansu Fati gave an exquisite pass after turning our defender Pablo Maffeo every which way but loose. Lewandowski then wrong-footed Martin Valjent and hit a low and hard shot past Pedrag Rajkovic from just inside the penalty area to score the game’s only goal.

The match was described before kick-off as “The ULTRA defensive Mallorca against the super offensive Barcelona” but for long periods we were the better team.

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As usual, coach Javier Aguirre picked a back five who pressed high up the pitch and a midfield who attacked with pace, leaving Vedat Muriqi to plough a lone furrow up front. The system worked a treat and Mallorca were well prepared for whatever the mighty Catalans could throw at them and they reduced the visitors to almost zero chances.

With some fans still trying to find their seats, the opener was a moment of individual brilliance from debatably the world’s top striker. Mallorca, despite going behind early doors, stuck rigidly to their game plan and if we’d taken the three best chances that came our way the outcome would have been so different.

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Barcelona became so frustrated as they tried to break down our five-man wall, that the referee showed three yellow cards for some tasty tackles, and sent off Barcelona’s coach Xavi Hernandez’s brother Oscar (the assistant coach) in the last 10 minutes off the first half. Going in at the break Mallorca fans seemed more than happy about how the team were performing.

RCD Mallorca has flaws like any other mid-table side in La Liga but with Aguirre at the helm our main virtue is attitude.

Once again Vedat Muriqi was one of our main protagonists and was our undisputable reference in attack. After playing two international games in a week you’d expect him to be slightly jaded. But no, he was his usual high-intensity self and the team benefits so much from his input. Rivals now know that we depend on him so much that sometimes they stop guarding the flanks. That’s what happened as early as the 10th minute when Kang In Lee unleashed a howitzer that zipped over the bar with Ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal getting fingertips to the effort. Then Galarreta volleyed high and wide and Jaume Costa came the closest when he nearly toe-poked in a Kang In Lee cross. All these were scoreable opportunities.

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A word about Kang In Lee who had another blistering game. According to top Spanish football website “Signings,” Newcastle United are preparing a bid for the South Korean international saying he’s a player who “perfectly” fits the profile being targeted by the “Toon.” According to “Signings,” Kang In Lee is being compared to Man. City legend David Silva (now seeing out his career at Real Sociedad). Kang can play out wide, up top or as an attacking midfielder. The good news is Mallorca are now in a position where they don’t have to sell their star players in order to survive as all debts have been paid. However, the chance to sign for the world’s richest club could be too much for Kang In Lee to say “no.” As all us Mallorquinistas know, he’s a real Jack-In-The-Box and has been sensational so far this season.

Over the past two weeks, 21-year-old Kang In Lee has flown over 20,000 kilometres to join up with the South Korean squad to play friendlies in Cameroon and Seoul. For both games, he never got off the bench and it would be a travesty if he didn’t make his country’s squad for the World Cup.

Another player who could be selected for a country is Pablo Maffeo. He could play for Argentina as his mother’s from there. Their coach is Lionel Scaloni who played for us on loan in 2008/9. He lives in Santa Ponsa and was at Saturday’s game.

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With the World Cup coming up fast on the horizon, October is likely to be the most congested month fixture-wise for many years. Our next game is on Monday 10th when we play away at struggling Elche, kick off 9pm.

That fixture is another of those “must win” games and if we play anywhere near the way we played against Barcelona, then the three points should be ours !!!

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