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Match Preview: Mallorca looks to break away from the pack

Mallorca is coming off back-to-back draws against Celta Vigo and Villarreal, which were their 10th and 11th of the season in La Liga. Only Udinese in Serie A (12) had more draws in the top five European leagues before the weekend, while Mallorca’s next opponent, Betis, is not far behind with 10, although none of their last three league matches have ended in a draw (1W, 2D).

The “Pirates” will be looking to run Betis ragged in order to extend their five-point lead over the relegation zone. The return of Son Moix to the Estadi Mallorca should give them a boost, as they have only lost twice in their last 25 home matches (12W, 11D), the last time being against league leaders Girona in midweek in the Copa del Rey.

Betis’ impressive home record will not intimidate this Betis team, which has dominated recent exchanges by remaining unbeaten in the last nine direct encounters (7W, 2D). Betis won 2-0 in the first leg in November, which keeps their chances alive of completing a league double over Mallorca for the second consecutive season.

This would allow the “Verdiblancos” to get back in the race for European places, which they should be looking at with optimism after finishing in the top six in each of the last three seasons. They will need to bounce back from their 4-2 defeat to Barcelona in the last round, but their ability to recover has been demonstrated recently, with their last instance of consecutive defeats in La Liga coming back in April.

Players to watch: Despite his return from injury, Vedat Muriqi could be called upon as he has scored the last two goals for Mallorca against Betis, both in the second half. On the other hand, Willian José has scored his last seven goals before the break and should be able to end his drought, having scored one of them against Mallorca earlier in the season.

Hot stat: Manuel Pellegrini, the Betis coach, has lost only one of his 23 personal clashes with Mallorca (17W, 5D).

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