Palma/Barcelona, Spain, Jun 12 (efe-epa).- LaLiga leaders Barcelona will be back in action after 97 days this weekend when they will play away to RCD Mallorca, an encounter the Catalan giants have won nine out of the last 10 times.
The Balearic hosts, only promoted last year, are in the grip of the relegation zone again.
It’s friendly territory for Barcelona and Quique Setién’s men will have their tails up, replenished after the coronavirus hiatus with the return of Luis Suárez, who was poised to miss the rest of the season (had it not been interrupted) with a knee injury.
The reincorporation of the Uruguay international, although he is not expected to play against Mallorca, takes some of the mental strain off Lionel Messi.
The final cog in the attacking trio Antoine Griezmann has said he needed a rest and would come back in top form.
Between them, Messi, Suárez and Griezmann have netted 38 goals so far this season, despite not playing together in almost a third of all matches.
It’s Barcelona’s first visit to Palma de Mallorca in eight years when they won 2-4 with goals from Xavi, Tello and Messi, who bagged a brace.
The Argentine’s goals that day saw him beat Pelé’s record of 75 goals in a year.
Racing through a backlog of games — which some players have referred to as the 11 finals — Setién has to cast away a couple of lingering uncertainties, such as whether he’ll rely on Semedo, who broke Spain’s stringent lockdown rules to attend a friend’s birthday party.
Also up in the air is the immediate future of Samuel Umtiti, who has a muscle injury.
Center-back Clement Lenglet is also unavailable through suspension.
Setién could opt to play two forwards, Messi and Griezmann, linking up with Arturo Vidal.
But if he chooses 4-3-3, there could be an opportunity for Ansu Fati or Martin Braithwaite to get a run out.
Barcelona currently have a two-point advantage over Real Madrid, who will host Eibar on Sunday.
While Barcelona are trying to hold on to the top spot in LaLiga, Mallorca daren’t look down.
Vincente Moreno’s side have lost at home this season to Atlético de Madrid (0–2), Real Sociedad (0–1), Betis (1–2), Sevilla (0–2), Valladolid (0–1), Getafe (0–1), and have drawn with Athletico Bilbao (0–0) and Osasuna (2–2).