Luuk de Jong, Eric Garcia react after Barcelona’s victory over Mallorca
Barcelona made the ideal start to their new year as they picked up a narrow 1-0 victory over RCD Mallorca at the Iberostar Stadium on Sunday night.
Despite being hit hard with injuries and a Covid outbreak, Xavi Hernandez’s side managed to come out on top in a game that they largely controlled, although the chances were not always free-flowing.
Nonetheless, a 44th-minute header from Luuk de Jong was enough to clinch all three points for the Blaugrana on the night, helping them move up to fifth place in the La Liga standings.
The 31-year-old Dutchman, whose loan spell at Camp Nou may be coming to an end in the near future, was handed a start due to the sheer number of absentees on the night. And after having hit the post and the crossbar, he found the back of the net to win it for his team.
Speaking after the contest, Luuk de Jong highlighted the importance of the result, saying: “This win means a lot to us. Winning today is a giant step to achieve many things. We can’t look for excuses. We are ready for everything. What we saw today is that the team is gaining confidence. I hope we continue like this.”
The Netherlands international also touched upon his overhead kick that hit the crossbar, stating that it would have been one of his best goals ever, had it gone in. “That volley would have been one of my greatest goals ever,” he said.
When quizzed if he felt that he was not treated rightly at Barcelona given his lack of game-time and the rumours of an exit, Luuk de Jong issued a classy response saying: “I don’t feel mistreated, no. I will be ready when the coach needs me. No player is bigger than the club.”
Eric Garcia hails Ter Stegen, believes team is on the right track
While Luuk de Jong scored the all-important goal, Barça could have ended up with just one point if not for Marc-Andre ter Stegen pulling off a vital save in stoppage time to deny the hosts.
And, defender Eric Garcia hailed the German international, who has come in for some criticism recently. “70% of today’s win is thanks to Ter Stegen,” the centre-back said.
Speaking of the result, the ex-Manchester City ace added: “We got three very important points today. It was important for us to climb higher in the standings. The teams on top of us dropped some points. To get this result with that many absences is pretty great. The first half was good, but we suffered in the second one.”
On the performance and the atmosphere in the team, Garcia said: “I think we are doing well. We played well as a group. All the players are doing great. It’s true that we suffered in the last minutes, but Mallorca is not an easy opponent.”
“It’s important that we start the New Year with a victory. There are some teams that are ahead of us in the standings, but have lost this week, and fortunately we won. We’re on the right track, the results will come later.”