First Division - Day 1

Mallorca 1 - Valladolid 1

Mallorca: Roa; Olaizola, Siviero, Fernando Niño, Carreras; Finidi (Novo 42'), Engonga, Ibagaza (Josemi 65'), Fernando Soler; Biagini (Robles 30'), Carlos. 4-4-2.
Valladolid: Ricardo; Torres Gómez, Peña, García Calvo, Heinze, Marcos; Richetti, Eusebio (Ciric 63'), Turiel; Fernando (Kaviedes 46'), Pachón (Cuauhtémoc 83'). 5-3-2.

1-0. 03. Ibagaza. Free kick from outside area which took a deflection off defender.
1-1. 71. Turiel. Goalmouth scramble after free kick from left.

Football returned to the San Moix stadium, and with it Mallorca's prodigal son, Carlos Angel Roa, back in goal after abandoning the side twelve months ago to dedicate his life the Adventist church in Argentina. His exile only lasted one year, and Roa decided that he could after all combine the two, probably realising that the income from being a professional footballer would be greater than taking the collection plate around the church once a week. His return caused problems for new manager Luis Aragonés, as he already had two first class Argentinian keepers, including Mono Burgos, who replaced Roa in the Argentinian national side when Roa retired, and Leo Franco, a promising youngster who played most of last season after Burgos was suspended for three months after laying out Espanyol's Serrano with a right hook for a supposed racist insult. In the end the fact that Leo Franco had a EU passport prevailed, and Burgos was left out of the 25 man squad, although the rock star (honestly) has decided to stay at the club for now, hoping to be included in December if and when Ibagaza gets his EU passport and a non-EU spot becomes available.

With Luque and Eto'o both away in Sydney with their international sides, only Roa and Finidi of Mallorca's new signings started the game. Injuries to Miguel Soler, Nadal and Stankovic meant they were unable to take part, and Biagini came back up front after a long injury to partner Carlos. Luis kept the basic formation used by Fernando Vázquez last season, with Ibagaza playing behind the front two. Valladolid also had a change of manager but not of formation, Pancho Ferraro sticking to Manzano's 5-3-2 line up, with the same defence as last year (Ricardo was preferred in goal to new signing Bizzarri), and only three new faces, Richetti, Fernando and Pachón, who made up the attack. He did however gradually bring in three other newcomers as substitutes, with Kaviedes coming on at half time, then Ciric and finally Cuauhtémoc seven minutes from time. All three should establish themselves as first choice players before long.

Mallorca couldn't have had a better start, with Ibagaza's free kick being deflected off the defensive wall and past Ricardo with only three minutes gone. They should have extended their lead a quarter of an hour later when referee Pérez Lasa awarded a penalty after Carlos was brought down, but Biagini's spot kick was saved by Ricardo. Biagini paid the price for his miss, with Aragonés substituting him with youngster Robles "for technical reasons" only half an hour into the match. Valladolid were getting back into the game, with Heinze scraping the crossbar with one shot and shooting just wide with another. The Mallorca manager then surprised everyone with his second substitution a couple of minutes before half time, taking off a "not fully fit" Finidi and putting on another young player, Novo.

The second half started with Ricardo saving well on two occasions from Carlos, Mallorca's most dangerous forward. Valladolid responded with a free kick from Marcos which struck the bar, and Pachón brought a good save out of Roa. Luis brought on his last substitute, another new signing Josemi, in an attempt to strengthen midfield, but Valladolid kept up their attack, and Turiel took advantage of a goal mouth scramble to latch on to a loose ball and beat Roa. Both teams kept up their attack looking for the winner, and in the last minute Roa saved the day, sticking out a foot to block a shot from Kaviedes which looked a goal all the way. The man was back, and Mallorca should be a better side for it. Next weekend Mallorca play on a Saturday, the Adventists holy day, but the game is being played at nine o'clock at night after the sun has set, so apparently his church will allow him to play! At this rate, expect to see Christopher Lee on the wing and Peter Cushing getting in the cross. Anybody else got any witty remarks?