The first game of Barça in the new year comes in La Liga against Mallorca at the Son Moix. As COVID starts to resurface in the league again, and rip through all the teams. Barça is definitely one of the most effected. Over the last week, we have had a max of 10 players contract the disease, meaning they are now all in self isolation. Lenglet and Umtiti who were among those 10 players, have now tested negative. Which means they are available for selection.
Although, that’s not going to make us any stronger. Considering the number of absentees, the position where we are pretty well stacked up in is at Centre back. We have Araujo, Pique, Eric, Lenglet, Umtiti and Mingueza all available. So the return of Lenglet and Umtiti isn’t going to help us out that much.
Lack of Attacking options
The position where we are the lightest is in the attack. Ansu, Dembele, Memphis, Abde and Braithwaite are all out with either COVID or an injury. Ansu and Memphis have been involved in full training this week, but this game is going to come too soon for them both. Like Pedri, we will most likely see them against Linares in midweek.
In my opinion, I think it’s ridiculous why this game is still going ahead. Mallorca have also suffered with COVID over the last week, so both teams aren’t going to be at full strength. We’re going away in a vital league game with the majority of our squad coming from the b team. Just the other week, Xavi was told that he couldn’t field more than 3 b team players at a time, otherwise we would forfeit the game with a loss. Whereas now, he’s able to field as many b team players as he wants, due to COVID and other injuries. The rules just aren’t consistent.
Nevertheless, despite all our absentees, the focus can’t be taken away from what is such an important game for us. We want to start 2022 off on the right track! Currently, we find ourselves in 7th placed. Which on paper, still doesn’t look good at all. But what’s encouraging, is the fact that we are only 1 point off Atletico Madrid in 5th place. And only 2 points off Rayo Vallecano in 4th. Intriguingly, Atleti and Rayo both face each other today. Which means that one, if not both of them, will drop points today before we even play our game.This is exactly why a win today is absolutely vital for us. It’s the best chance we’ve had all season so far to get back to where we belong. We’ve been given the chance, so now we’ve got to take it!
A quick look at our opponents
Moving away from the Barca side of things for a second, our opponents today find themselves in 15th place in La Liga. Their last game in 2021 came up against Granada, where they lost 4-1. In fact they haven’t won a game since their impressive victory at the Wanda Metropolitano. Managing to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1, shows that even though they are in a low position at the moment, they’re still not a team we should underestimate. Out of the 18 games played so far, they’ve lost 6, drawn 8 and only won 4. Conceding 27 goals in the process, which sums up why they are where they are right now.
However, the most shocking thing is that they’ve only conceded 5 more goals than us this season. With all due respect to Mallorca, they are a team we should be beating, even despite the absentees we have. But one thing we can’t do is underestimate them. Scoring first is vital.
As mentioned previously, our squad for the game is extremely light. Due to COVID and other separate injury problems, we are flying to Mallorca with the majority of the players coming from the B team. Of course, that’s not a bad thing as it will be interesting to see how the team shapes up. But it does make the depth of our team tomorrow very shallow. Defensively, we are pretty strong, especially at Centre back. It’s the fact that we don’t have any natural fullbacks in the squad , which is worrying. Araujo and Pique will most likely take up the Central position, although Araujo could be pushed out more to the right again, to cover for our lack of fullbacks.
Ideally, I hope that doesn’t happen. Eric Garcia may even play on the right too. At left back, we could possibly see Mika Marmol make his debut, once again to cover the absence of Alba and Balde. Although he would be played out of position, it would still be great to finally see him in the first team. He’s such an impressive talent and is by far better than Lenglet and Umtiti. In midfield we will be without Gavi, Busquets and Coutinho. But other than those two, we still have important players such as Frenkie De Jong and Nico. Riqui Puig will also most likely to get his long awaited chance to start in the team.
In terms of the midfield, I’m not too concerned about that. However, in attack we are extremely limited in our options. Ferran Jutgla is expected to start upfront. The question will be who he partners up with. Due to our lack of options, I can see Ilias starting on the right hand side, with Juvenil A forward Estanis Pedrola getting an unexpected start on the left.
Let us know what your lineup would be in the comments section! We’re going to be kept guessing right up until the game itself. But a positive result is vital!
Mingueza- Araujo- Pique- Marmol
Riqui- Frenkie- Nico
Ilias- Jutgla- Pedrola