Farewell 2019 good friend 🇬🇧

Budimir marcó el primero.

Real Mallorca fans could be forgiven for not wanting 2019 to end. A year that saw them unbeaten at Son Moix in the Segunda, mount an incredible remontada from 2-0 down to gain promotion to La Liga and then beat Real Madrid on the island. Yet, all good things come to an end. As we say farewell 2019 good friend, it is time to look forward to 2020 and Real Mallorca’s new year’s resolutions.

Survival

Two promotions in two years was an incredible feat for Vicente Moreno and his team. The Valencian will not be resting on his laurels though and he will see anything less than survival as failure this season. Both he and all Real Mallorca supporters would snap your arm off to finish right where they sit at the beginning of 2020, in 17th position and outside the drop zone. Whilst the first half of the season has exceeded most outsider’s expectations of Mallorca, there is much to be done to secure that finishing place.

Improved away form

Something Mallorca will be looking to wave goodbye to from 2019 is their away form. Even the casual La Liga observer will know that los bermellones are more than fragile on their travels having picked up just the one point on the road. If the team is to survive then they cannot just rely on their form at Son Moix to drag them through. More must be added on their travels and in order to do that they must find a more attacking formula across the midfield to give more support to Ante Budimir. That may come in the shape of Cucho Hernandez, fit after his hamstring injury that has kept him out for two months since joining on loan from Watford.

A better midfield balance

Mallorca have played the majority of the season with Dani Rodriguez playing out of position. The pocket rocket is crucial to Vicente Moreno’s plan and he has made a huge sacrifice playing out of position for the good of the side. However, this has led to a midfield imbalance with Mallorca attacking down their right, where Rodriguez has spent most of the season, less than any other La Liga side. His inclusion in the wide positions initially allowed the side to be more compact but what they gained in solidity they lost in creativity. With Take Kubo now a regular fixture in the side, Lago Junior back from injury and Cucho Hernanzez ready to play, Vicente Moreno has some tough choices to make. A change of shape or leaving out one of Rodriguez, Aleix Febas, Salva Sevilla or Idrissu Baba are all a possibility. What is certain is that the Valencian will need to strike a better balance in midfield to protect the defence but do enough going forwards in order to get the goals needed for survival.

Don’t pay the penalty

Inexplicable and incredible are two words that spring to mind when thinking about Mallorca’s relationship with the penalty spot this year. In their 18 games there have been 17 penalties awarded, ten to the opposition and seven in favor of Mallorca. They’ve been involved in the most in the division and it is a record that simply cannot continue if there is a serious survival effort to be mounted. With over 75% of all penalties being scored in professional football, the almost certain one goal advantage to the opposition in a low scoring sport is one which any team would struggle to overcome.

Clean sheets

On the subject of goals conceded, this is another major area that Mallorca need to make serious improvements. They are nine games without a clean sheet and have kept only three clean sheets all season. They have the second worst defensive record in La Liga, having conceded 32 goals, 21 of those have come in their eight away games. Mallorca have scored on average exactly one goal per game and without a clean sheet that means that a win is more often than not off the table. Having played a conservative formation from the start of the season, it is clear that a more defensive approach is not necessarily the way forward. Perhaps finding that elusive left back who can perform consistently well would help, but overall attack could be the best form of defence, pegging their opponents back and giving them less opportunity to attack Manolo Reina’s goal.

More clinical

Whilst Mallorca have conceded bags full of goals at times this season, they have actually performed roughly in line with the number of goals they should have conceded according to expected goals. However, where they have hugely under-performed is in the goal scoring charts where they are over three goals below their expected goals scored statistics. In plain speaking that means that Mallorca have created chances where they would have been expected to score three goals more than they have this season but have missed gilt edged chances. A penalty miss (Abdon vs Athletic Club) and other gilt edged chances in front of goal will spring to mind for you all immediately. A little more sharpness in front of goal and a little more quality in the final third will go a long way towards survival.

Vicente Moreno will, I am sure, have similar resolutions for his squad. He and they have managed to squeeze every last bit that they can out of this La Liga season so far but already there are signs that they are starting to be exposed with many having made the two division step up. Let’s hope that Moreno’s Christmas card from Mr Sarver and Maheta Molango contained a generous gift in the way of a transfer budget and some freedom on how to spend it. If they can make 2020 half as good as 2019 has been for the club then it will be a vintage year.


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@Mallorcalex100

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