Anderlecht - Malaga Preview: Belgians look to end wait for home victory against high-flying Spaniards
The hosts have not won a group-stage game in Brussels since 2003, and face an onerous task in trying to end that ignominious run against one of the form sides in La Liga
By Mark Doyle
Gillet, Wasilewski, Nuytinck, Deschacht
Biglia, Kouyate, Kljestan
Gamez, Demichelis, Weligton, Monreal
Portillo, Camacho, Eliseu
Anderlecht are buoyed by the availability of Milan Jovanovic for Wednesday night's Champions League Group C clash with Malaga.
The former Liverpool forward missed the opening-round draw with AC Milan at San Siro through suspension but he is expected to start in attack at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium alongside Dieumerci Mbokani, with teenage striker Massimo Bruno set to drop to the bench.
Jovanovic's recall aside, it should be a case of as you were for John van den Brom's side, as they look to end a run of nine home games without a win in the group stages of the Champions League.
In-form Malaga, meanwhile, have arrived in Brussels without attacker Julio Baptista and midfield duo Diego Buonanotte and Jeremy Toulalan due to injury, but 16-year-old striker Fabrice, who recently became La Liga's youngest ever goalscorer, has been omitted from the travelling party.
However, coach Manuel Pellegrini, who led Villarreal to the semi-finals of the 2005-06 Champions League, has no fresh injury concerns and is therefore likely to once again start with Javier Saviola up front, with Isco and Joaquin in support, with the trio having run riot in Malaga's sensational 3-0 win over Zenit last time out.
|DID YOU KNOW?
- Anderlecht have not won a home game in the group stages of the Champions League since edging out Lyon 1-0 all the way back in November 2003.
- On the plus side, the Belgians have won eight of their previous 11 European clashes with Spanish sides in Brussels.
- However, the 1983 Uefa Cup winners have lost three of their last four home games against Primera Division outfits.
- Malaga encountered Belgian opposition during their only previous European campaign, the Spaniards defeating Gent 4-1 on aggregate in their Intertoto Cup third-round clash during the summer of 2002.
- Former Bayern Munich defender Martin Demichelis made his first appearance on the European stage for the Bavarians in a 1-1 draw with Anderlecht during the group stages of the 2003-04 Champions League.
- Javier Saviola has lined out against Belgium opposition once before, during his Barcelona days. The Argentine striker was on target in a 3-2 group-stage win over Club Brugge in 2002.
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Top 3 Predictions
Anderlecht 0-2 Malaga
- 18.1 %
Anderlecht 1-2 Malaga
- 17.2 %
Anderlecht 1-3 Malaga
- 10.41 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Dec 4, 2012||Malaga 2 - Anderlecht 2|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 3, 2012||Anderlecht 0 - Malaga 3|
|Dec 1, 2013||Anderlecht 2 - Cercle Brugge KSV 1||BEL1|
|Nov 27, 2013||Anderlecht 2 - Benfica 3||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Royal Charleroi SC 2 - Anderlecht 1||BEL1|
|Nov 10, 2013||KRC Genk 0 - Anderlecht 1||BEL1|
|Nov 5, 2013||Paris Saint-Germain 1 - Anderlecht 1||UCL|
|21||Tom de Sutter||Striker|
|21||Sebastián Fernández Miglierina||Striker|
|9||Roque Santa Cruz||Striker|
The Congolese was the most accomplished attacking player on the pitch in the scoreless draw with the Rossoneri, exhibiting a wonderful first touch, quick feet, impressive hold-up play and intelligent distribution. All that was missing from a stellar performance was a goal. Encouragingly, he goes into this game on the back of a double against Lokeren at the weekend, so he will not want for confidence as he looks to really make his mark on the European stage.
While all eyes will no doubt be on Spain Under-21 starlet Isco, following his stunning two-goal salvo against Zenit, those with more long-term memories will be keen to monitor the performance of Javier Saviola, a former prodigy himself. It seems like an eternity ago that the diminutive Argentine was strutting his stuff for Barcelona in the Champions League but he is still just 30 and, happily for his fans, he seems to have finally rediscovered the scintillating form that made him such an exciting young talent, having registered three goals in his last four outings.
Anderlecht caused AC Milan all sorts of problems at San Siro but in spite of their impressive build-up play, with Guillaume Gillet particularly impressive down the right-hand side, they were ultimately let down by a lack of a cutting edge. One fears it could be a similar story against a Malaga side high on confidence and brimful of attacking threat.