Preview: Mallorca vs. Espanyol
Mallorca welcome Espanyol to Son Moix on Friday night, to kick off the LaLiga action for the weekend.
The hosts recorded an impressive victory at Mestalla last weekend, while the visitors were held to a 2-2 draw by bottom side Elche.
It has been a very encouraging start to the season for Javier Aguirre’s Mallorca, who are perhaps unfortunate not to be a couple of places higher in the early LaLiga standings.
Before last weekend’s trip to Valencia, the island side had accumulated an expected goals figure of 5.20 across their previous three outings, scoring just one goal and picking up a single point in a quite luckless run of games.
Nonetheless, the return of formidable striker Vedat Muriqi seemed to inspire Los Piratas on Saturday, as the Kosovan grabbed his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot to help his side to a first win at Mestalla in over 12 years.
Kang-in Lee also scored, to continue his fine form on his return to Spain’s third city, in what would have been a painful sight for Valencia fans following his controversial move away from the club two seasons ago.
With Lee and Muriqi at the top end of the pitch, in front of a solid defensive foundation that has conceded only 15 goals in 11 games so far this campaign, Mallorca are a strong side capable of beating any team in front of their own fans.
For the visitors, a frustrating, stop-start season continued last weekend, as they squandered a late lead over LaLiga strugglers Elche.
In another cumbersome attacking performance, Los Pericos struggled to take their chances against the league’s leakiest defence, as Joselu missed a golden opportunity to seal the game, just minutes before Gonzalo Verdu’s spectacular equaliser.
It was only the second time that the former Stoke City striker had failed to score at the RCDE stadium in an Espanyol shirt, as Javi Puado and Martin Braithwaite both bundled in close-range efforts either side of the break.
Having only kept two clean sheets this season, Diego Martinez has some defensive work to do if Los Pericos are to steer themselves clear of a relegation dogfight, as the Catalan club look for just their second away win of the calendar year.
Mallorca La Liga form:
Espanyol La Liga form:
We say: Mallorca 2-1 Espanyol
With the visitors in patchy form, we expect hosts Mallorca to claim all three points for a second consecutive win.
Espanyol are always a threat with Joselu and Braithwaite on the pitch, but the home side will fight to the bitter end and should have enough to find their way through a leaky defence.