FC Barcelona v Malaga – a brief history

barcmalaAs far as bogey teams go, this fixture takes some beating. Barcelona face Malaga tonight looking to continue their good start to the season, and will be confident of victory having won their last 12 games against them in the league. Malaga have beaten Barcelona just twice in their history, but not for over 10 years, failing to win a point against them since. Here is a brief history of the fixture.

3/12/03 Malaga 5-1 Barcelona

Perhaps the result is overstated as Barca were waiting to welcome Real Madrid in the Clasico, but Juande Ramos’ Malaga tore a fragile defence apart on an unforgettable night on the south coast. Barca were without Ronaldinho, though fielded Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Phillip Cocu. Patrick Kluivert, Javier Saviola, Xavi and now-manager Luis Enrique. Salva Ballesta netted a hat-trick, and this remains Malaga’s last victory against Barcelona.

22/3/09 Barcelona 6-0 Malaga

Malaga briefly left the Primera Liga due to relegation, but returned in 2008/09 to an all-conquering Barcelona side led by Pep Guardiola. The Catalans won the treble that year, arguably their best ever as they played every single opponent off the park in a scintillating era for tiki-taka. Malaga visited in March, unable to halt a strikeforce containing Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Eidur Gudjohnsen. Xavi, Messi, Henry and Dani Alves each scored and Eto’o grabbed a double to condemn Malaga to a heavy defeat.


2/5/12 Barcelona 4-1 Malaga

If Barcelona reached their peak as the new decade began, Lionel Messi enjoyed the best spell of his career not long after, scoring his 68th goal of the season with a hat-trick against Malaga. It was the year in which Messi broke all kinds of records for his incredible goalscoring feats, and with this treble he surpassed Gerd Muller’s tally for goals in a season. Messi went on to score another five goals in the three remaining games of the season, but Barca bid farewell to Guardiola that season and missed out on La Liga and Champions League joy.

1/6/13 Barcelona 4-1 Malaga

In the final game of the 2012/13 season, Barca lifted the La Liga trophy in front of their home fans on an emotional night at the Nou Camp. David Villa, Cesc Fabregas, Martin Montoya and Andres Iniesta were on the scoresheet as Eric Abidal made his farewell appearance for Barca. He was then given the honour of lifting the La Liga title alongside boss Tito Vilanova, who had missed periods of the season, bravely battling cancer in the USA. It was the last time the trophy was lifted at Barcelona as the club lost out to Atletico Madrid last season.

Ones to Watch in La Liga – Getafe to Rayo Vallecano

1Part III of our look ahead to the new season focuses on some goalkeepers, Colombians and loan stars from the Premier League looking to impress.

Getafe

Getafe struggled for goals last season as they eked out their place in La Liga for another year, but boss Cosmin Contra has again promised that the goals will return to the club. He might be right too if Alvaro Vazquez’s pre-season form is anything to go by. The former Swansea loanee bagged an impressive brace in Getafe’s 3-1 win over Cagliari last week and could be the talisman the club needs to ensure another season of safety.

Angel Lafita, Pablo Sarabia and Pedro Leon have stayed at the club, and should look to push on and contribute from midfield again, whilst the addition of exciting Colombian Fredy Hinestroza could draw some admiring glances if he hits the ground running.

 

Granada

Another Colombian looking to impress is Granada’s Jhon Cordoba. The youngster spent last season at Espanyol but didn’t impress sufficiently to earn an extended contract. That could work out well for Granada however, as Cordoba begins his second year in Spain with plenty of experience from his first.

Someone else with a point to prove is returning midfielder Fran Rico, who missed the entirety of the previous season due to injury. He’ll be desperate to show fans he merits a squad number after a horrendous 12 months. Another mention should go to Diego Mainz, who has plenty of experience and will surely lead Granada by example this season.

 

Levante


Undoubtedly reeling from the sale of star goalkeeper Keylor Navas, all eyes will be on his replacement. It is highly unlikely the new keeper will match Navas for athleticism or popularity, but nevertheless it will be down to one of Diego Marino or Jesus Fernandez to fill in for the Costa Rican.

It is unclear who will be first choice stopper, but the one making loud noises has been former Real Madrid player Fernandez. He has been vocal about proving himself, making statements about the current European Champions’ decision to let him go. All his talk would be in vain if he wasn’t confident in becoming Levante’s number one, so you’d have to assume JIM has made his decision.

 

Malaga

Staying on the subject of goalkeepers, behind Navas and Manuel Neuer, Guillermo Ochoa was arguably the stand-out stopper in Brazil this summer. Malaga have recruited extremely well to palm off other suitors for the Mexican, especially considering they lost legend Willy Caballero to Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City.

Famed for his heroics in the Mexican goal, Ochoa’s shot-stopping will surely be called upon in La Liga as Malaga prepare for another tough season. Javi Gracia is at the helm nowadays, looking to do a better job than he did with Osasuna last season. He’s also brought in Liverpool’s Luis Alberto, who has the potential to bring Malaguistas to tears with performances reminiscent of Jeremy Toulalan.

 

Rayo Vallecano

If you haven’t kept up with any of Rayo Vallecano’s activity during the summer then you only have yourself to blame. If you have kept up with it all, you should be highly commended. Usually only experienced by teams who suffer relegation, Rayo have had an almighty turnaround of players, bringing 15 in and letting 10 go, not including those who were only on loan at the club last year.

Of the arrivals, Gael Kakuta, Derek Boateng, Manucho and Antonio Amaya stand out. Personally speaking, seeing Kakuta prove himself having been tipped as the next top player of our generation will be interesting. The 23-year-old has spent so much time out on loan it is debatable whether he actually has a future at Stamford Bridge, but he has his chance to impress at Rayo for the next 12 months.

Pellegrini raids Malaga for Willy Caballero

Willy CaballeroManchester City look set to tie up a deal for Malaga’s number one Willy Caballero within the next 24 hours. The goalkeeper would cost City around £10m who will use him as cover for Joe Hart following Costel Pantilimon’s departure to Sunderland.

Argentinian stopper Caballero, 32, would link up with former boss Manuel Pellegrini once again after the two worked together before the Chilean took over at the Etihad Stadium last season. Pellegrini tried to lure Isco away from Malaga during the summer last season but lost out to Real Madrid, but has had no such troubles with Caballero.

Having played almost 200 Segunda Division games for Elche, Caballero became a big hit in La Liga with Malaga, helping the club to qualify for the Champions League. They reached the quarter-finals that season but have since seen plenty of their stars depart after financial and disciplinary issues.


The goalkeeper is likely to cost around £6m, with a further £4m going to Malaga dependent on appearances and success at City. He could sign a contract at the club as early as Monday afternoon if the deal runs through smoothly.

Malaga meanwhile are looking for a replacement for Caballero already, and have been linked with a move for the Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa, although, after his heroics in Brazil this year, will surely be linked with every club during the next few weeks.

Barcelona Back On Top

barcmalaBarcelona pulled off a three nil victory at home to Malaga yesterday, to return to the summit of La Liga. It is very much a three horse race now, with Barca holding the slenderest of leads.

It has been a turbulent week for Barcelona following the resignation of club president Sandro Rossell. Rossell is strenuously fighting allegations that he profited from the signing of Neymar, but the club will be glad to be concentrating on passing on the field rather than passing the buck.

Messi, as always, was the architect of the win. His dazzling dribbles caught Malaga out time after time, and he set up Pedro for the 55th minute goal that gave Barca a two goal lead and effectively finished the game. He also started the move that saw Alexis Sanchez grab Barca’s third on 61 minutes.

The first goal came from Gerard Pique, his second in two games. The Malaga defence was nowhere to be seen as he controlled the ball from a Xavi corner before hitting into the net. Pique had previously gone 11 months without scoring.


A similar drought is affecting Messi. He has now gone 120 days without a Liga goal. For a large period of that time he was out with a hamstring injury but the Argentine wizard will be looking to get back on the scoresheet as soon as possible.

 

 

Malago 0-0 Valencia

malagaWith an exciting week of Copa Del Rey football over, La Liga action returned at La Rosaleda last night where Malaga and Valencia played out an entertaining nil nil draw.

Malaga manager Bernd Schuster will have been pleased with his sides efforts but they are now winless in three games and looking anxiously over their shoulders on 21 points.

The home team started well, with Valencia, much improved under new manager Juan Antonio Pizzi, slow out of the blocks. Samu and Ignacio Camacho both came close but Malaga could not find the early goal that their play deserved.

Valencia wakened from their slumber and increasingly dominated as the game went on. The man of the match was undoubtedly Malaga goalkeeper Caballero – one double save in particular was spectacular as he saved a goal bound free kick from Daniel Perejo and then stopped the rebound effort from Jonas.


Parejo was pulling the strings in midfield but Malaga defended doggedly. Caballero pulled out other fine stops but he was finally beaten when his defender Sergio Sanchez stabbed the ball into his own net. Thankfully for Malaga the linesman’s flag was up for offside and the match finished as it had started.