Ibiza travels to Palma today with the objective of making sure that 8 March 2020 goes down in the history books as the date when Atlético Baleares’ dominant spell on home soil comes to an end. The Sky Blues will take to the Estadio Balear intent on getting three important points and, in doing so, inflicting a defeat on their Balearic rivals who haven’t lost in Mallorca since 16 September 2018. In this time, the team from Mallorca racked up 28 victories and three draws as the home side. Making the switch back to their historic stadium Estadi Balear from Son Malferit in summer, the blue and white side managed by coach Manix Mandiola has been able to solidify its consistency this season. The only two points to escape during the current campaign were those of a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid Castilla in November 2019. The last defeat took place against Sabadell a year and a half ago. Stats that produce “respect and eagerness” at the same time for Pablo Alfaro. Ibiza’s head coach used Friday’s pre-match press conference to remind the gathered media representatives that “at Can Misses, no-one was able to win either until we played against Baleares. On Sunday, I expect it to be a very similar encounter to that of October in Ibiza. That match was very tight, decided by an unlucky goal that we conceded. I believe that Sunday will be a fantastic match between two of the division’s best sides. It’s a derby which has all the ingredients to make it one of those special days that a season can produce”.
Alfaro also spoke about the positive statistics his side has accumulated when playing away from home. While Baleares is the best home side in Group I – followed by Ibiza – the Sky Blues are the second-best away side in the group. Confirming this stat after the recent defeats suffered in Ferrol and Boadilla del Monte may be a challenge, but an additional motivation for Alfaro’s squad: “The best proof of how tough it will be to win matches from now on until the end of the season was last weekend”, said the Zaragoza-born coach, “with the top three sides on the ladder losing away from home”.
Baleares will have only two omissions to contend with on Sunday with the absence of Óscar Gil and Jordan. Ibiza, on the other hand, will once again count on a number of players in a match which is undoubtedly important, but in no shape or form a decisive clash. Alfaro can choose from a fully available squad with none of the players being suspended for the match. In addition, the coach is confident of including Fran Grima in the squad list after the defender was substituted last weekend due to an injury concern. “We have seventeen or eighteen players who will be available to play. I won’t give you any hints on who those might be, but we will put out a very competitive side that will adapt itself to the conditions on the day without abandoning our style of play”. Conditions that will definitely be challenging considering the great run of form the home side has been able to produce over a long period of time under the guidance of coach Manix Mandiola. “It won’t be a decisive match, but it’s an opportunity for both sides to lay down a marker, not only in terms of points. I’m expecting an intense and tough match with few chances, but it could also be the complete opposite”, explained the Basque coach after yesterday’s training session.
Alfaro has reached the milestone of being at the helm of his Ibiza side for a year. During the press conference the coach acknowledged the beautiful moments he’s experienced since taking over at Can Misses and also dared to look towards the future. “The best is yet to come”, he said, perhaps sending a message to the “more than 300 people strong supporter group travelling to Mallorca from Ibiza” of his team’s attempt of breaking the opposition’s winning streak at their own ground. The top-of-the-table clash has both sets of supporters licking their lips in anticipation in what is expected to be a sold-out event in front of more than three-thousand spectators. Both fan groups will make sure that, no matter what the final score, a great celebration of Balearic football will be on show for everyone to see.