“A good match is simply not enough against Barcelona these days, we have to play the perfect match,” asserted Mallorca Coach Joaquin Caparros ahead of his side’s eventual 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Catalan giants on Sunday evening. In a tense outing for the Islanders, they could only threaten in fits and starts as the perfection the former Athletic Bilbao boss strived for from his players did not fully materialize on Sunday evening.
While Lionel Messi made history for the visitors by surpassing Pele’s record for 75 goals in a calendar year, Mallorca could only stutter to their sixth successive loss in La Liga – the last time they picked up a win was against Valencia in late September. After a promising eighth place finish in their previous campaign, little has been improved upon since being only 90 minutes away from a European place against Real Madrid last season.
Caparros famously claimed he had the ‘best squad in the League’ during the summer. However, departures in critical areas have arguably left him worse off then before his side stepped out at the Santiago Bernabeu last May. Despite several shrewd signings that included Antonio Lopez, Javier Arizmendi and Javier Marquez, moves out the other end for Chori Castro, Chico and former captain Ivan Ramis have created deficiencies in key departments.
The transfers of Castro and Ramis in particular have disrupted what were previously concrete elements of the side in attack and defence respectively. The former contributed in over 30 per cent of goals scored last season, while the new Wigan man was a mainstay in one of the strongest defences in the League last term that only leaked 46 goals. In the space of 11 games in 2012-12 they have already let in 19 and only have 12 to boot at the other end.
Mallorca’s defensive partnership of Brazilians Pedro Geromel and Anderson Conceicao has shown signs of settling into a steady unit, but ultimately the pair have not fully adapted to the Spanish game in their debut campaigns. Tomas Pina and Marquez have provided the strength in the middle of the park, but the former has shown a significant weakness in passing while the recent summer signing still has signs of wear and tear from being frozen out at Espanyol.
Caparros has an increasingly small section of options, but the Islanders’ attack must be the priority to turn their form around in the short term. Their over reliance on frontman Tomer Hemed has caused issues at times, but the Israeli striker has netted 50 per cent of their goals this season and can change results by himself. Spanish forward Victor has also been a source of inspiration, but in truth the flanks should be their biggest source of creativity, as Emilio Nsue and Giovani dos Santos both have the capability to do damage.
Mallorca travel to the Estadio de Balaidos next Sunday night in a crucial fixture for both outfits, and a seventh defeat on the bounce could potentially leave the club in the relegation zone. A victory on the other hand could give them the momentum required to push further up the table in search of the stability in which they thrived under last season.