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Match Preview: Sunderland v RCD Mallorca - opposition takes a step up with a week to go!

With just a week to go before the season opener against Ipswich Town, the level of opponent ramps up to provide Tony Mowbray an opportunity to view his options - here’s all the build-up ahead of kick-off.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Saturday 29th July 2023

Sunderland v RCD Mallorca

Friendly

Stadium of Light

Kick-Off: 15:00


Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets are available via www.safc.com.

TV/Stream: Full live match coverage is available via www.safc.com.

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)

Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!


The build-up...

We might still have another fixture at Hartlepool United in midweek, but it’s easy to assume that today’s fixture is the one that Tony Mowbray will be finishing the planning ahead of next week’s season opener against Ipswich Town.

Although pre-season results are no gauge for predicting our form going into the start of the new campaign, but so far the Lads have won five from five and it can’t hurt to be in the habit of winning games.

Looking at those five games for clues as to what the manager’s thought might be at this stage, it has been interesting at some of the partnerships that have been put out on the pitch so far.

Dan Neil, who we assume will be the first name on the team sheet in the middle of the park, played the first two fixtures in the States alongside Jobe Bellingham in the first game and Pierre Ekwah in the second.

San Antonio v Sunderland Pe-Season Friendly
After impressing in pre-season so far it’s likely we’ll see Chris Rigg in action for the Lads this afternoon
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In the final game on tour, Bellingham was alongside Jay Matete, who looked sharp in the early stages before taking a knock. It’s one area to look out for this afternoon to see who gets the minutes - especially with young Chris Rigg impressing during pre-season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get a decent runout today.

Another partnership that looked interesting was during the New Mexico United where Alex Pritchard linked up well with Hemir. With the Portuguese striker being the only fit orthodox forward in the first team squad at the moment, there’s every chance we could see Pritchard take up that role this afternoon.

In central defence it is anyone’s guess, with Dan Ballard and Danny Batth probably in pole position to start the season, will Mowbray use today as a chance to give them minutes as a pair or to try out combinations he might still be considering?

North Carolina v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly
The Lads will be playing in very different conditions this afternoon than were on the tour of the US
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Our opponents are a step up from the second and third tier in the United States, with Real Club Deportivo Mallorca finishing a respectable 9th in La Liga last season after re-establishing themselves in the top flight the year before with a 16th place finish following promotion from the second tier.

They even dropped down to the third tier of Spanish football back in 2017-18, which was some drop from the side of the late-1990’s and early-2000’s that finished in the top six of La Liga three times in four years, while also winning the Copa del Rey in 2003 and reaching the final of the old UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999.

Mallorca will be looking to improve on last season’s solid mid-table finish, but may need to find a new creative spark after 22-year-old South Korean Kang In Lee joined Paris Saint-Germain for an initial €22m with add-ons built in, which made him the second biggest sale in the club's history behind Barcelona’s fee for Samuel Eto’o for €27m back in 2004.

With La Liga kicking-off in two weeks time they will be viewing today’s friendly as a useful exercise ahead of their season opener against UD Las Palmas on the 12th August.

Paris Saint-Germain v Le Havre - Pre-season Friendly
Kang-In Lee in action for Paris Saint-Germain in pre-season after his recent move from RCD Mallorca
Photo by Aurelien Meunier - PSG/PSG via Getty Images

Played for both...

Alan Hutton

The Glasgow-born full-back came through the ranks at Glasgow Rangers to become a first-team regular for a number of years before signing for Tottenham Hotspur in January 2008.

His form in Scotland had convinced Martin Jol to part with something in the region of £9m for his services, but two years later in February 2010 Hutton joined Sunderland on loan. Sunderland were reportedly keen to make the move permanent following his 11 appearances on Wearside, but Spurs’ asking price meant it wasn’t to be.

The Scottish international was then snapped up by Alex McLeish at Aston Villa and spent eight years in the West Midlands, which included loan spells at Nottingham Forest, RCD Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers. Hutton retired from professional football in 2020.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Aston Villa v Sunderland - Villa Park
Alan Hutton and Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock fail at their attempt to recreate Torvill and Dean’s Boléro routine.
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Ki Sung-Yeung

Ki began his career in South Korea with FC Seoul where he impressed enough for Celtic to part with around £2m in January 2010 to take the midfielder to Parkhead. After just two years north of the border, Michael Laudrup’s Swansea City took him to Wales for around £6m.

Ki would spend six years at the Liberty Stadium that included a year on loan at Sunderland which resulted in a League Cup final appearance against Manchester City in 2014. He would eventually leave permanently in 2018 when he joined Newcastle United for two years before a move to Spain with RCD Mallorca in 2020, where he made one appearance as substitute before the pandemic suspended the La Liga schedule.

Ki returned to South Korea and FC Seoul when football was able to begin again following COVID-19 restrictions.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Capital One Final
Ki Sung-Yueng in action for Sunderland in the 2014 League Cup final against Manchester City
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arnau Riera

Riera will forever be very harshly associated with a bleak period that ended up being one of the great ‘success from adversity’ stories in the club's history - but it all began at his hometown club which was RCD Mallorca.

As he was progressing through the ranks he made a move to Barcelona at 20 years old before making a first team appearance, where he spent five years playing for the C and then B teams, before being spotted by Niall Quinn after our former striker had just installed himself as manager after being named chairman of the club in the summer of 2006.

Things started badly for Quinn and it took the appointment of Roy Keane to sort it all out and one of the casualties of the period was the Spanish midfielder. Riera never really recovered and after attempts at Southend United and Falkirk on-loan, as well as a trial with Simon Grayson’s Blackpool, his career was never able to take off.

Soccer - Coca-Cola Championship - Roots Hall - Southend v Sunderland
Arnau Riera in action for Sunderland against Southend United
Photo by Mark Lees - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

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