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Played
January 16, 2011 8:00 PM GMT
Camp Nou — Barcelona
Referee:‬ José González‎
Attendance:‬ 71576‎
 
Duda 68′
18′ David Villa
 
36′ Pedro
 
74′ David Villa
 

La Liga Preview: Barcelona - Malaga

Barca keep chalking up the wins, but the new-look Boquerones will be hoping to spring a surprise...

By Robin Bairner

Lionel Messi - Barcelona (Getty Images)
No Stopping Them

Barcelona look as strong as ever. In the early stages of the season, Pep Guardiola’s side were questioned, with critics citing a lack of goals, not to mention surprising home slips against Hercules, who won at Camp Nou, and Mallorca, who earned a draw. Those days of late summer are now a long forgotten memory, with Barca powering away at the summit of the Primera Division.

Challenges difficult for normal teams are made to look easy by the Catalans. A cross-town trip to Espanyol looked a difficult match on paper, with los Periquitos boasting a perfect home record, but la Blaugrana claimed a 5-1 victory with seemingly impossible ease. And as for their goal scoring problems? Forty-three goals in 10 Liga matches answers that question.

It’s not only the excellence of this Barcelona side that is remarkable, their consistency and desire to produce that level on a regular basis is perhaps more so. Against Betis in the Copa del Rey, Guardiola’s men could easily have relaxed, perhaps asked for a rest, but it is telling that Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi struck a hat-trick against the Segunda side, with fellow nominees Xavi and Andres Iniesta also prominent.

There is little chance of Barca resting on their laurels for a Liga encounter against Malaga. By the time they kick off, la Blaugrana could be second in the standings, but they will approach the game with the same relish as ever.

Big Test For New Look Side

Floating dangerously close to the relegation zone, it’s not been a great surprise that nouveau riche Malaga have opened their chequebook this month. After a disappointing start to the campaign under Jesualdo Ferreira, Manuel Pellegrini has been tasked with the recovery process of the Andalucian club, and already the former Real Madrid coach has several new players to work with.

The Chilean made it clear from the outset that he was not impressed by the club’s defensive record, and having been unable to greatly improve it with the tools initially at his disposal, he has added Argentina international Martin Demichelis to his ranks, not to mention promising young goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo on loan from Atletico Madrid. Additionally, Barcelona centre-back Gabriel Milito could be another to sign up on a temporary deal before the end of the month.

But Malaga won’t be travelling to the Catalan city simply to try and complete the Milito deal; they are going with the intent of shocking la Blaugrana. Defensive solidarity may not be a hallmark of their game, but Asenjo believes his team-mates can fashion a few chances to score of their own, particularly since adding Julio Baptista to their ranks.

“It will be difficult, but we will have our opportunities,” he told the press. “This is the last game of the first round of the season, and although we will go hoping to not lose the match, we will attempt to play to our own strengths.”

Los Boquerones’ form remains a little erratic, but under Pellegrini there have been signs of improvement, and the team will want to display that against the best at the weekend.

TEAM NEWS

Barcelona

Pep Guardiola will be delighted with Barca’s injury position. La Blaugrana should have a complete panel of players on Sunday evening.

Malaga


Julio Baptista could debut on Sunday, joining other recent signings Sergio Asenjo, Martin Demichelis, Enzo Maresca and Ignacio Camacho in the squad.

Jose Galatto, Helder, Eliseu, Sandro Silva and Baha could all sit this game out.



Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
Spain - Primera Division ‎(LIGA)‎ Jan 26, 2014 FC Barcelona 3 - Malaga 0
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Spain - Primera Division ‎(LIGA)‎ Aug 25, 2013 Malaga 0 - FC Barcelona 1
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Spain - Primera Division ‎(LIGA)‎ Jun 1, 2013 FC Barcelona 4 - Malaga 1
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Spain - Copa del Rey ‎(ESPC)‎ Jan 24, 2013 Malaga 2 - FC Barcelona 4
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Spain - Copa del Rey ‎(ESPC)‎ Jan 16, 2013 FC Barcelona 2 - Malaga 2
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
22Éric AbidalDefender
3PiquéDefender
5Carles PuyolDefender
22Daniel AlvesDefender
8Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
16BusquetsMidfielder
6XaviMidfielder
7PedroStriker
9David VillaStriker
10MessiStriker
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
15Gabriel MilitoDefender
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
-Seydou KeitaMidfielder
21AdrianoDefender
19Ibrahim AfellayMidfielder
-Bojan KrkicStriker
25Sergio AsenjoGoalkeeper
-ManoloDefender
8Patrick MtiligaDefender
3WeligtonDefender
26Martín DemichelisDefender
17DudaMidfielder
10ApoñoMidfielder
6CamachoMidfielder
16Vincenzo MarescaMidfielder
20Quincy Owusu-AbeyieMidfielder
19Júlio BaptistaMidfielder
1Francesc Arnau GrabalosaGoalkeeper
4Kris StadsgaardDefender
45RecioMidfielder
-FernandoMidfielder
18EliseuMidfielder
23RondónStriker
21Sebastián Fernández MiglierinaStriker
Probable Lineups
Víctor Valdés 1
Éric Abidal 22
Piqué 3
Carles Puyol 5
Daniel Alves 22
Andrés Iniesta Luján 8
Busquets 16
Xavi 6
Pedro 7
David Villa 9
Messi 10
Sergio Asenjo 25
Manolo 0
Patrick Mtiliga 8
Weligton 3
Martín Demichelis 26
Duda 17
Apoño 10
Camacho 6
Vincenzo Maresca 16
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie 20
Júlio Baptista 19
Prediction
With Barcelona having scored at least three goals in nine of their last 10 Primera Division matches, it’s surely a case of ‘how great will the winning margin be?’ on Saturday night. Malaga have signed a batch of new players, but they will take time to gel properly. With a rickety defence at the best of times, it could be a long night for the Andalucians.

Think you know the score? Visit William Hill to bet on this match now.
Editor's Prediction
Malaga 1
Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
C. Ronaldo C. Ronaldo
Striker
Real Madrid
28 6
Diego Costa Diego Costa
Striker
Atl. Madrid
27 5
Messi Messi
Striker
Barcelona
26 6
Karim Benzema Karim Benzema
Striker
Real Madrid
17 0
Alexis Sánchez Alexis Sánchez
Striker
Barcelona
17 0