FC Barcelona vs RCD Mallorca: Preview, Team News and Prediction

The champions face a dogged team at home before the most important week of the season.

Athletic Club v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports
Athletic Club v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports / Ion Alcoba Beitia/GettyImages
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After a disheartening performance and a costly draw away at San Mames, the Champions are back in action at the Montjuic for yet another crucial La Liga fixture before they turn their heads to their biggest game of the season, the 2nd leg of the RO16 tie vs Napoli. 

Real Madrid were held to a controversial stalemate at Mastella and Barcelona had their best possible chance to mount a comeback in the title race and reduce the deficit to 6 points. Girona, who in recent weeks have shown signs of losing the steam after taking the league by storm, too lost for the third time in 4 games, incidentally to Barca’s Friday’s opponents. A win on Sunday would’ve taken Barca to 2nd, but alas, it wasn’t to be. 

The team not only played poorly, creating very few chances worth remembering, but they also endured a major setback as both Pedri and Frenkie De Jong got injured, and they are both set to spend an extended period on the touchline. To add to the disappointment, the officials handed suspensions to both Xavi and Araujo for this fixture because of their yellow cards from last weekend. 

The game at Athletic Club once again highlighted the gaps in a number of aspects of Barca’s game. With such a short turnaround time, it would take something extraordinary for the club to improve on their previous display in terms of quality and precision. Mallorca has leaked as many goals as Barcelona and their attack too has scored a lowly 24 goals which is the 3rd lowest tally this season.

Mallorca lie at a lowly 15th in the league table but are well clear of the chasing pack and should hold on to their place in La Liga for the 2024-25 season with relative ease. Their position in the table doesn’t do justice to their performances this season for they’ve constantly been a thorn in the paths of the teams in the top half and to cap it off, managed to reach the Copa Del Rey final by defeating Sociedad away last week. 

The reverse fixture saw Barcelona go behind twice, only for goals from Raphinha and Fermin to bail them out and earn them an undeserved draw. Mallorca were by far the better team and with better finishing, could’ve secured a late winner. 

The next 10 days mark the most crucial phase of Barcelona’s season with Napoli and Atletico away on the horizon. Three positive results and the team could enter the international break oozing with confidence and alive on both fronts. A couple of mishaps might bring the Blaugranes’ season to a premature end. 

TEAM NEWS:

BARCELONA

Barcelona come into this game on the back of a moral crushing injury to De Jong and Pedri and will also have to deal with the absence of Xavi and Araujo for this fixture. Inigo Martinez would slot right in replacing the suspended Araujo. Lamine Yamal should return to the starting 11 after being surprisingly benched for Raphinha and the difference in the confidence level of the two wingers was evident after Lamine was subbed on. 

The midfield is one place wherein Xavi suddenly finds himself handicapped after injuries to his preferred trio. Fermin Lopez, who has done enough this season to justify his place in the starting 11, should logically be slotted right in. With one eye on the tie against Napoli, Oriol Romeu could take Christensen's place, considering the Dane has been starting every game and had a hectic past few weeks. The dearth of options in the center of the park might force Xavi to revert to playing 3 attackers and starting Joao Felix on the left after having deployed a makeshift attacker as a midfielder in recent weeks. 

With limited options at his disposal, don’t count it against Xavi to give a rare appearance to a couple of La Masia kids.

Predicted XI (4-3-3);

Marc-André ter Stegen, Jules Koundé, Pau Cubarsí, Iñigo Martínez, João Cancelo, Oriol Romeu, İlkay Gündoğan, Fermín López, Lamine Yamal, Robert Lewandowski, João Félix

MALLORCA

Except for Omar Mascarell (suspended), Mallorca has a complete roster to choose from and no fresh injury concerns of their own, giving the manager the freedom to select his preferred eleven. Coming off a historic week, Mallorca made it to the Copa Del Rey final for only the fourth time in their history and sealed the week with a home victory over 2nd place Girona. Aguirre’s side will be oozing with confidence and rearing to have a crack at the Catalans. 

Predicted XI (5-3-2);

Predrag Rajković, Giovanni González, Martin Valjent, Matija Nastasić, José Manuel Copete, Toni Lato, Dani Rodríguez, Antonio Sánchez, Sergi Darder, Vedat Muriqi, Cyle Larin

PREDICTION

A week ago, people would have touted this fixture as an opportunity for Xavi to rest some of his key players ahead of a critical week. However, the injuries to vital cogs and the disappointing show in Bilbao have put significant weight age on this game. Mallorca are flying high and it would take a lot of resilience to take them down. It will be a feisty affair which might turn ugly, but 3 points are a must and Montjuic will count on the likes of Lewandowski, Gundogan and co to earn it for them.

Barcelona 2-1 Mallorca