Real Madrid will aim to continue their perfect start to the 2022/23 La Liga season when they welcome Mallorca to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Real Madrid will be looking to make it seven wins in a row across all competitions at the start of the 2022/23 campaign when they play hosts to RCD Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga on Sunday afternoon.

On Tuesday night, it was a game of two halves for Los Merengues, who laboured a bit against Celtic’s intensity in the first half. But their quality shone through as they beat Celtic 3-0 in their Champions League opener. Quick-fire second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric put the game out of reach for the Scottish Champions, before Eden Hazard sealed the victory late on.

The defending La Liga and European champions have started the new campaign in impeccable fashion with an unblemished run of results so far, winning all six of their matches across all boards this season. Real Madrid are the only team in the Spanish top-flight to boast a 100% win rate after four La Liga rounds and are currently leading the table with 12 points, two points clear of second-placed Barcelona.

On the other hand, Mallorca, who survived relegation by one point last season, have had a healthier start to the new La Liga season than many predicted, with a win and two draws from their opening four games. They drew 1-1 with Girona in their most recent league game and sit comfortably in the mid-table.

New manager Javier Aguirre has guided Mallorca to five win in 13 games thus far (D3 L5), an excellent record for a relegation-threatened side. But their away record is dismal, to say the least, with only three wins from their last 20 games. Real Madrid are, of course, overwhelming favourites to keep their imperious run going against Mallorca, but the visitors will be keen to show they are no longer relegation fodder.

The last time these two sides met at the Bernabeu was in September last year, with Real Madrid beating Mallorca 6-1 courtesy of a brace from Karim Benzema, while Marco Asensio had his best performance in a long time. Ahead of their latest encounter this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both sets of squads.

Team News & Tactics

Real Madrid

The only negative takeaway from the win in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night was that Karim Benzema will miss three matches because of a knee issue. Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti initially downplayed that it was not a serious concern, but the full extent of the injury is a bit more severe.

The Merengues are still dealing with a couple of injuries as Eder Militao (hamstring), Alvaro Odriozola (muscle), remain unavailable for the weekend’s clash. But Nacho Fernandez and Jesus Vallejo have returned to the squad after recovering from their muscle problems.

Ancelotti will continue to employ a 4-3-3 system that has served Real Madrid brilliantly since his arrival. There should be only one change at the back from the midweek triumph, with Antonio Rudiger replacing the injured Militao to partner David Alaba at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. The rest of the back four will be unchanged, with Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy set to occupy the full-back spots, while Thibaut Courtois will continue in goal.

Eduardo Camavinga could get a run-out in the middle of the park against Mallorca, with the Frenchman likely to come in for Luka Modric to give the ageing Croat a breather. Toni Kroos and Aurelien Tchouameni, however, are expected to hold on to their respective slots in the midfield unit.

With Benzema out injured, Real Madrid lack a natural striker for the matches against Mallorca and RB Leipzig. Eden Hazard is likely to step in to fill Benzema’s shoes and is expected to operate in a false nine role, with Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo on either side of him.

Vinicius has netted in each of his last four games and opened the scoring for Los Blancos in Glasgow on Tuesday night. The 22-year-old has the flair and finesse to take on even more goal-scoring responsibility in Benzema’s absence and will be heavily relied upon here.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Camavinga, Tchouameni, Kroos; Rodrygo, Hazard, Vinicius

RCD Mallorca

Similar to his counterpart in the Real Madrid dugout, Mallorca boss Javier Aguirre has a fair few injury concerns to deal with ahead of their trip to the capital.  Amath Ndiaye missed the back-end of last season due to fitness issues and remains unavailable here due to a finger injury picked up at the start of the ongoing season. Dominik Greif (ankle), Iddrisu Baba (muscular), and Angel Rodriguez (hip) are other major doubts.

The Vermilions were on the cusp of liquidation with relegation looming large with three games to go last season. But they somehow scraped seven points from the possible nine to secure survival on the final day. A big factor in their heroics was Vedat Muriqi, who directly contributed to nine goals in his short-term loan spell from Lazio.

Despite operating on a shoestring budget this summer, Mallorca managed to sign their firefighter on a permanent basis this summer, and he will be their most potent weapon against Real Madrid. A finisher and a big, strong target man, an old-fashioned striker, Muriqi is a handful to deal with his aerial supremacy and physical prowess. He already has three goals in his last six matches and will have Kang-in Lee as his partner in crime in Mallorca’s front-two.

Predrag Rajkovic will be the man between the goalposts for Mallorca and could be in for a busy night at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Mallorca goalkeeper will need all the protection he can get from the three-man central defence of Jose Copete, Antonio Raillo, and Martin Valjent.

Mallorca have not often needed a helping hand for their demise in recent games. Los Piratas have already conceded three penalties in their first four games of the new season, accumulating a league-high 20 yellow cards. Their backline needs to be more disciplined here. To address that, the two wing-backs, Pablo Maffeo and Jaume Costa, will be asked to stay tight and compact alongside the centre-backs to deny space to the Real Madrid wingers.

The onus of cutting out the influence of the Real Madrid creators will fall on the shoulders of the midfield trio of Antonio Sanchez, Rodrigo Battaglia, and Dani Rodriguez, with Rodriguez also looking to be more involved in the attacking side of things.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Rajkovic; Valjent, Raillo, Copete; Maffeo, Sanchez, Battaglia, Rodriguez, Costa; Lee, Muriqi

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid are undefeated in 29 of their last 30 La Liga home matches.
  • Real Madrid have won eight of their last nine La Liga games against Mallorca (L1), while they have not lost at home to them since May 2009.
  • Real Madrid are the only side left in the European top-five leagues to have a 100% win record this season (4/4). They will be looking to win their opening 5 league games of the season for only the second time in the 21st century, last doing so in the 2009-10 campaign.
  • Los Blancos have won six games in a row, with the last five containing three or more goals.
  • Mallorca are on a poor run of just two wins from their last 13 fixtures on the road.

Player to Watch

Eden Hazard

Real Madrid’s Champions League tie against Celtic was a morale-booster for Eden Hazard, who has struggled at the Bernabeu since arriving from Chelsea. But a bright display at Parkhead could spark a return to prominence. The Belgian attacker was involved in all three goals scored that day after coming on as an emergency substitute around the half-hour mark and was arguably Real Madrid’s best player on the pitch.

The 31-year-old is feeling far freer than he has done in three years and provided glimpses of vintage Hazard in the Celtic game. That should offer a ray of hope that the former Chelsea star may finally be on the road to resurrecting his Real Madrid career.

This upcoming stretch of games in Benzema’s absence might just be Hazard’s final shot to prove that he is still capable of contributing at the top level. Should he perform, Hazard might swiftly turn from a burden to a blessing, with Real Madrid in desperate need of quality depth up top.

Prediction

Real Madrid 3-1 RCD Mallorca

Real Madrid have not been utterly dominant despite their 100% record and arguably were made to work in each game so far. This match against Mallorca is their chance to stake a claim and make a statement with a big win. But Los Blancos have a few defensive concerns as they are yet to keep a La Liga clean sheet this term, while Mallorca have kept a clean sheet in their last four away league matches.

Without Karim Benzema, Real Madrid’s attack will have a different dynamic, but Eden Hazard knows he must step up this season. The visitors will try to stay compact and hit on the counter, but Real Madrid’s attack will be too strong for them to cope with. Real Madrid will be full of confidence thanks to a positive start to their Champions League campaign and may well extend their run against Mallorca this Sunday.

2 Responses to “Real Madrid vs RCD Mallorca Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats”

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  1. Andrew Ngirazi says:

    Madrid will win 4-0

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