A relegation battle is on the cards at La Rosaleda, where los Boquerones will hope to overcome los Manos...
Sitting second bottom of the Primera Division, Malaga are in difficulty. The owners of the club have been quick to react, feeding coach Manuel Pellegrini a fortune with which to buy new players, and the fruits of this effort will hope to be harvested on Saturday, when they meet Zaragoza in La Liga.
Los Boquerones were quick to dip their toes into the January transfer market, but as yet it has brought them no success; not that they would have expected much given that their last two fixtures have pitted them against Barcelona and Valencia. Hope could have been taken for a brighter future after last weekend’s fixture at the Mestalla, which was lost 4-3 at the death, but which showcased great character on the Andalucians’ part.
They opened the scoring early on and were reduced to 10 men by the time they recaptured the lead to go 2-1 up. Los Che twice hit back to grab a 3-2 advantage, with Helder Rosario dismissed between the hosts’ two goals. Malaga could easily have surrendered but managed to hit back through a fine solo Julio Baptista goal, though they would succumb right at the death when Aritz Aduriz found the net.
Although the trip to the east coast was ultimately an expedition that failed to yield any rewards for los Boquerones, they should feel a good deal better about their overall ability after a gritty and tenacious performance, the kind of which they’ll have to replicate on a regular basis if they are to move away from the foot of the standings.
Out Of The Woods... For Now
Like Malaga, Zaragoza are a side looking to move away from the relegation zone, and the Aragon outfit have been making progress to that end over the course of the last couple of weeks. Javier Aguirre finally seems to have installed some discipline into his men, and this has been rewarded by 1-0 victories over both Levante and Deportivo La Coruna.
Boasting three wins in their last four league matches, los Manos have moved away from the relegation zone, but the likelihood is that they will sink back into the mire should they suffer a reverse on Saturday.
“It was a good win, but the league does not end today,” the Mexican coach was keen to remind his players following the narrow win over Depor, which came courtesy of a Said Boutahar free kick, and he was also anxious to flag up his side’s offensive problems. “With the ball we have not been good, but defensively we have been correct. It is not a problem to play with one or two strikers but it is collective issue that is necessary to coach.”
Home form has very much been the forte of north-eastern club. Indeed, they’ve yet to taste victory on their travels this season, though they have been tough to beat on the road, earning five draws in nine matches. Zaragoza will not go into the weekend’s fixture consigned to defeat, but their fans will not be too hopeful of a vital win either.
Red cards last weekend for Martin Demichelis and Helder Rosario, don’t mean both are banned. While the Argentine will serve a one-match ban, the latter has seen his expulsion annulled this week. Weligton has been slapped with a two-game suspension by the disciplinary committee, while Apono’s fifth yellow card of the season means he is also banned for one fixture. He has also been hit with a further two-game suspension by the disciplinary panel.
Ruben is a long-term injury problem.
Ivan Obradovic has been ruled out due to injury, while fellow defender Matteo Contini is suspended. There are no other fresh issues for los Manos.