RCD Mallorca vs Athletic Club: Athletic attempt to go top of La Liga
Raul Garcia celebrates his goal with Iñaki Williams (Gettyimages/Soccrates Images)

La Liga gets back underway after the international break with match day four fixtures starting on Friday with an 8pm kick-off (UK time) when Real Club Deportivo Mallorca host Athletic Club at the Estadi de Son Moix.

Story Behind the Game

This will be the first time they have met competitively since 11th May 2013. That encounter saw Athletic Club hold on for a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Aritz Aduriz, who is of course playing his final season for the club aged 38, and Fernando Llorente. A lot has changed since then with RCD Mallorca dropping down as far as the Segunda División B in 2017, before achieving back-to-back promotions to the top flight, whereas Athletic Club have maintained their position in the top flight, they have been through some rough patches of form seeing the club teetering around the relegation zone at times. 

Mallorca managed to start the season well with three points, but are now coming off the back of two straight defeats, their latest being a 2-0 loss away to Valencia CF - thanks to penalties either side of half time, both scored by Dani Parejo. However, Mallorca could take some positives from the game as they created plenty of chances, which included hitting the woodwork twice in the first half. Improved discipline in defence, and a bit of luck in attack could see Vicente Moreno’s men put up a good fight against the Basque giants.

Athletic Club, on the other hand, have started the season undefeated, collecting seven points from the first three games, the latest being an impressive 2-0 victory in the Basque derby against La Real. The game saw Iñaki Williams notch his first goal of the new campaign after a cut back from Ander Capa in the 11th minute was easily put away; the second goal saw Raúl García produce a stunning lob from the edge of the box. Gaizka Garitano has his team looking well organised and ready to battle any team, so they will be looking to pick up yet another victory this Friday.

Team News

Both teams are free of suspensions coming into this game, Mallorca are expected to be without two centre forwards in Abdón Prats, as well as, Watford loanee Cucho Hernández who are both still injured. Deadline-day loan signings Baba Rahman from Chelsea and Fabricio Agosto Ramírez from Fulham should be available for Moreno however.

Athletic Club are still without fullbacks, Iñigo Lekue and Óscar de Marcos, though the latter was back in training this week but is still not expected to play this Friday. With Bilbao being the only club not to make a transfer this summer, expect to see a similar team to the one that played in the derby.

Expected line up

RCD Mallorca (4-4-1-1) - Reina; Lumor, Raíllo, Valjent, Sastre; Júnior, Sevilla, Baba, Rodríguez; Febas, Budimir

Athletic Club (4-2-3-1) - Herrerin; Capa, Nuñez, Yeray, Yuri; Lopez, Dani Garcia; Larrazabal, Raul Garcia, Muniain; Williams

Key Clash

Iñaki Williams vs Antonio Raíllo & Martin Valjent

As previously stated, Williams scored his first goal of the season in match day 3, however, it is key for him to push on from there as all eyes will be on the 25-year-old after signing his huge nine-year contract. He will be up against a centre back partnership that has already conceded four goals so far this season, although, only two have been from open play. It is also worth noting that both Antonio Raíllo and Martin Valjent were key figures in Mallorca’s promotion, the partnership formed help see Mallorca only concede 12 times at home last season. This does not necessarily transcend well when moving up a division, but it will be a tough test for all three players come Friday night.     

Iddrisu Baba vs Raúl García

A key battle in this game could be won in midfield and, it’s easy to see two standout players for both sides. Iddrisu Baba has stood out for this Mallorca side. His defensive contributions have been important so far seeing him win many aerial duels and tackles, he also been crucial in helping dig his side out of trouble with few clearances. However, for this game it will be important for him to stay on top of Raúl García, the attacking minded midfielder has already got two goals to his name this season. Despite him giving the ball away a fair few times, García can produce and take his chances when asked to. This mixed in with his willingness to do anything for his club as shown in the last match day will create problems for Baba, so this is shaping up to be an exciting contest.