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Preview: Mallorca vs. Espanyol - prediction, team news, lineups
26/08/2021 11:33:51

Mallorca will be looking to continue their impressive start to the 2021-22 La Liga campaign when they welcome Espanyol to Visit Mallorca Stadium on Friday night (7:00PM, 27 Aug).

The home side have picked up four points from their first two matches of the season to sit fifth in the table, while Espanyol have opened their campaign with draws against Osasuna and Villarreal.

Match preview

Mallorca secured a return to this level of football by finishing second in the 2020-21 Segunda Division, and they will be looking to make it back-to-back La Liga seasons for the first time since 2013.

The Pirates opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Real Betis on August 14 before recording an impressive 1-0 victory at Alaves last weekend courtesy of a late effort from Fer Nino.

A total of four points from two matches has left Mallorca in fifth position in the table, and another victory on Friday evening would be a huge confidence boost for Luis Garcia's side, who will not return to La Liga action after this one until September 13, when they travel to Athletic Bilbao.

Los Bermellones had a busy summer in terms of incomings, while a number of players have moved on, meaning that there is a fresh look to the squad this season, but the start has been very encouraging.

Mallorca's last La Liga season - 2019-20 - saw them finish 19th, but they were largely a top-half team between 2007 and 2012, and it will be fascinating to see what the squad can achieve this term.

Espanyol, meanwhile, were surprisingly relegated from La Liga at the end of 2019-20, as they picked up just 25 points from 38 matches during a disastrous campaign, but the club secured an immediate return by winning last season's Segunda Division, finishing ahead of Mallorca on the head-to-head record.

Incredibly, Espanyol and Mallorca had an identical record in terms of wins (24), draws (10) and losses (eight) last season, but the former's goal difference was stronger, and the Catalan outfit managed to finish at the summit as they secured four points in their two matches with Mallorca during the season.

Vicente Moreno, who was in charge of Mallorca between 2017 and 2020, took control of Espanyol last August, and the 46-year-old, having enjoyed a successful first season, will now be tasked with keeping them in the top flight and avoiding any sort of relegation battle.

The White and Blues have played out goalless draws with Osasuna and Villarreal in their first two La Liga matches of the season, which has left them in 13th position.

Espanyol's two major incomings this summer have been Landry Dimata and Alvaro Vadillo on permanent deals, but they have also managed to bring in the likes of Sergi Gomez and Aleix Vidal to boost the squad.

Team News

Mallorca will again be without the services of Angel Rodriguez, Jaume Costa and Antonio Sanchez for Friday's contest, while Joan Sastre remains a doubt.

The hosts did not pick up any fresh issues in the win over Alaves last time out, though, and it is therefore expected to be a similar side to the one that took to the field for the one-goal win.

Dani Rodriguez, Jordi Mboula and Takefusa Kubo are likely to be the support for Abdon Prats at centre-forward, but there could be an alteration in midfield, with Rodrigo Battaglia potentially coming in for a start.

As for Espanyol, Adria Pedrosa picked up an injury to his hand in the draw with Villarreal last time out and is unlikely to be available, so Didac Vila is set to start at left-back.

Moreno's side could otherwise be unchanged, though, with Raul de Tomas expected to be joined in the final third by Dimata, with Adri Embarba and Javi Puado operating in the wide areas.

Espanyol's head coach is unlikely to move away from a 4-4-2 formation for this match, and Sergi Darder and David Lopez should keep their spots in midfield despite the competition for places in that area.

Mallorca possible starting lineup:

Reina; Maffeo, Russo, Valjent, Olivan; Mohammed, Battaglia; Mboula, Kubo, Rodriguez; Prats

Espanyol possible starting lineup:

Diego Lopez; Gil, Gomez, Cabrera, Vila; Embarba, David Lopez, Darder, Puado; Raul de Tomas, Dimata

We say: Mallorca 1-1 Espanyol

Both of these sides have shown plenty of positives in the early stages of the season, and we are expecting a tight match on Friday night. Mallorca have home advantage, but Espanyol have looked strong and resolute this term, and we can see the pair sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw here.

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