Football: Spanish football - Mallorca enjoy their moment in the sun

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The Independent Online
WHATEVER THE result of Real Mallorca's match against the bottom club Extremadura tomorrow, the island side will stay top of La Liga, for they have a four-point advantage over Celta Vigo and Valencia.

Mallorca's coach Hector Cuper is not complacent. He said: "The fact that Extremadura are at the bottom is irrelevant. It is not a match we are going to take lightly. They are defensive and can be difficult to break down."

Moreover, in seven away games, Mallorca have not once scored more than a single goal. Nevertheless, Mallorca have led the table for five weeks. The only other time they have topped the league was in the first week of the 1962-63 season, in which they were relegated.

Some reckon the only reason Mallorca are doing well is that La Liga is in a trough and that Real Madrid and Barcelona have been concentrating more on their European campaigns than domestic success. But the truth is that Real Mallorca have a developed a superb defence, which includes the Argentine international goalkeeper Carlos Roa. Mallorca have let in only six goals this season thanks to his efforts. Many consider him the best goalkeeper in the world.

Roa, however, is not the only reason why Mallorca are top. Before this season only one Mallorca player had ever played for Spain, but in recent months Marcelino, Vicente Engonga and Dani have all been called up for the national squad.