Team Spotlight: RCD Mallorca and the fallen giantFebruary 9, 2018
Samuel Eto’o and Dani Guiza once graced RCD Mallorca’s Estadi de Son Moix, now they languish in the Segunda B division.
In 2001, they beat Arsenal in the Champions League group stage, before finishing 5th in La Liga nine years later, but this season, the Vermilions were knocked out in the second round of the Copa del Rey to Lleida Esportiu.
Mallorca were once mingling with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona at the summit of the Spanish top flight, but financial issues have seen them plummet to the third tier.
Flourishing in La Liga
Cameroonian forward Eto’o has often been considered one of the deadliest strikers in the world over the past 20 years, flourishing in a trophy-laden five years at Barcelona.
But he rose to prominence in the Balearic Islands, as Mallorca enjoyed a 16-year stay in La Liga, twice finishing third, including above Barca in 2001.
Although they did flirt with relegation a couple of times, they largely remained in the top half, having also claimed a trophy in the Copa del Rey in 2003, with Eto’o scoring a brace in the final against Recreativo de Huelva.
Despite the former Real Madrid youth product moving on, Mallorca remained steady in the Spanish first division, until disaster struck off the pitch.
A series of poor choices in the boardroom and failed takeover bids, including by Englishman Paul Davidson who purchased 96% of the club’s shares, only to realise months later that he was unable to complete the deal because he couldn’t afford it. Just 18 months later, Mallorca were declared bankrupt and entered voluntary administration.
Despite a consortium, which included tennis star Rafael Nadal, buying the club, as per RCDMallorca.info, they were prohibited from playing in the Europa League in the 2010/11, after finishing the previous campaign fifth.
They remained in La Liga for three more seasons, but the off-field problems eventually spilled onto the pitch and saw them drop down to the Segunda Division.
Road back to La Liga?
Mallorca narrowly avoided a second-consecutive relegation, finishing 17th and just two points above the bottom three, but their continued flirtation with the drop came to an end when they fell down to the third tier in 2017.
Yet, their most recent fall from grace has done nothing but produced a revival in this once-great side, as an immediate promotion back to the Segunda Division beckons.
With 14 games to play, they lead Group 3 by nine points from Villarreal B, which would secure them a place in the group champions’ playoffs where they would have several chances to return to the second tier.
Even if they earn promotion, they will still not be the Mallorca of old until they are back mixing it in La Liga and for now, they are only a shadow of the side they once were.