RCD Mallorca vs FC Barcelona: La Liga Preview and Prediction
FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi are finally back in action after a three-month stoppage. The Catalans travel to the Balearic Islands as they go up against RCD Mallorca.
Both sides enter this game with a lot at stake.
FC Barcelona are fending off Real Madrid at the top as they are ahead of their rivals by two points. Any slip-ups can prove to be costly for the Blaugrana.
RCD Mallorca are on the opposite end of the spectrum sitting at 18th place, one point away 17th placed Celta Vigo. Vicente Moreno would be cursing his luck that his side has to face the defending champions in their first game after league suspension.
Form before league suspension
The hosts had been doing relatively well by their standards before La Liga was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Los Bermellones had carved out two wins, a draw and two losses to improve their standing in the league.
In their last La Liga game, Moreno’s side held out to defeat SD Eibar at the Ipurua Futbol Zelaia. Goals from Dani Rodriguez and Takefusa Kubo were enough to get three points on the road.
FC Barcelona have won four of their last five in the league. The blip in that run was an El Clasico loss at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
In their last fixture before the suspension, Quique Setien’s men got things back on track as they beat fourth-placed Real Sociedad, 1-0. A Messi penalty proved to be the difference in that one. Real Madrid’s loss to Real Betis also helped FC Barcelona leapfrog them to take back top spot.
Head to Head
This is a fixture that FC Barcelona have completely dominated in the last few years.
The Catalan club has been victorious against RCD Mallorca for seven straight meetings. In fact, the last time Los Bermellones won against FC Barcelona was in 2009.
The reverse fixture at the Camp Nou this season was seven-goal thriller as the league leaders won by a scoreline of 5-2.
Barca’s front three of Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez – all of them found the net with Messi bagging a hat-trick. Griezmann and Suarez also provided an assist each.
Ante Budimir was the standout performer for Mallorca, scoring a brace and posting a 100% conversion rate.
Leonardo Koutris and Lumor Agbenyenu will be missing in action for RCD Mallorca due to injuries. Other than that, Moreno can call upon all other members of the team.
For FC Barcelona, the French duo of Ousmane Dembele and Clement Lenglet will not be available. The former is out injured and the latter is suspended for this clash due to accumulating too many yellow cards.
Nelson Semedo will also not take part in this match due to breaking league and government lockdown protocols.
The good news for FC Barcelona is that Suarez has been cleared to play again and he is likely to start up front.
Antonio Raillo vs Lionel Messi
Stopping Messi is next to impossible. The entire football world has been trying to limit the Argentine magician for a good 12 years but he is too gifted on the attacking front.
FC Barcelona’s over-reliance on Messi in the past few seasons can work to their disadvantage. If Antonio Raillo can contain Messi long enough for RCD Mallorca to find the net against a leaky Barcelona defense, then Moreno’s men stand a chance of causing an upset. A quadriceps injury had forced the Argentine to train away from the squad so there is a slight possibility that he will take time to get his groove.
That being said, it is likely that Messi will add to his tally of 19 league goals 12 assists in this game. After all, he scored a hat-trick against RCD Mallorca last time out.
Ante Budimir vs Samuel Umtiti
Croatian forward Budimir was able to bag a brace against FC Barcelona’s strongest defensive lineup.
With Lenglet missing, his compatriot Umtiti will line up alongside Gerard Pique. The 2018 World Cup winner has been underwhelming since suffering from a long-term injury. In 11 league appearances this season, the former Olympique Lyonnais center-back has looked indifferent.
Budimir will be seeing this as an opportunity to get on the scoresheet again. He is leading the scoring charts for Mallorca this season and poses a major threat thanks to his aerial prowess.
Playing after a three-month gap ends up in games becoming a test of the fittest. This happened in the Bundesliga and can also be seen in La Liga as well as Italy.
RCD Mallorca are nowhere close to FC Barcelona’s quality. The fitness factor, therefore, has to be significantly higher if Los Bermellones are to pull off a shock win.
Quality and past records clearly favor FC Barcelona and I expect them to continue their winning run against Mallorca. The hosts will give Barcelona’s out-of-form defense a run for their money and find the net but Barca’s quality will ultimately prevail in this game.
Predicted scoreline: RCD Mallorca 1-3 FC Barcelona