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Primera División

  • May 21, 2011
  • • 17:00
  • • Estadio La Rosaleda, Málaga
  • Referee: Carlos Clos Gomez
  • • Attendance: 28963
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La Liga preview: Malaga - Barcelona

La Liga preview: Malaga - Barcelona

Pep Guardiola's side finish another successful domestic campaign with a match against the in-form Andalucians


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PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Malaga (4-3-1-2):
Caballero; Gamez, Stadsgaard, Weligton, Mtiliga; Fernandez, Camacho, Duda; Maresca; Baptista, Rondon

Malaga
Having been dismissed last weekend, Argentine international centre-back Martin Demichelis will be banned from this encounter, while Eliseu’s yellow card against Athletic Bilbao also pushed him over the disciplinary limit. Ignacio Camacho and Duda will make returns from suspension, though.

Striker Julio Baptista is doubtful due to a muscular problem, while Rondon remains injured.
Barcelona (4-3-3):
Valdes; Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Abidal; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Villa
After the wholesale rotation of last week, Pep Guardiola may choose to deploy his strongest XI so that no rustiness creeps in before next weekend’s Champions League final.

Everyone in the Catalans’ squad is fit to some extent, with Carles Puyol and Gabriel Milito both joining in Thursday’s training session, though the two centre-backs should still be considered doubtful. Adriano, meanwhile, shall be fit.

DID YOU KNOW?
  • Malaga may be firmly in the heart of the Primera Division table, but they are top of the form charts, having won five of their last eight games.

  • Despite this recent surge, the Andalusian outfit still haven’t fared well at home this season; only Almeria have won fewer points than their 24.

  • Los Boquerones have lost 65 goals this season – the same number as Real Sociedad – and if they concede more than the Basques on Saturday, they could well finish as the league’s worst defensive side.

  • In their last 10 matches, they’ve only lost six goals, winning five of their last six outings.

  • Barcelona, though the league’s second top scorers, have only mustered 11 goals in their last eight fixtures.

  • While the Blaugrana’s offence has been misfiring strangely, they’ve been robust at the back, conceding only five times during that period – fewer than any other side.

  • In matches that are tied at half-time, Barca have gone on to win seven of their 11 fixtures, which is a better record than any team in the league.

  • Pep Guardiola’s side are unbeaten against teams in the top half of the standings, yet they’ve twice been beaten when facing a lower 10 outfit.

  • With only 16 goals conceded in 32 games, Victor Valdes will claim the Zamora Trophy ahead of Iker Casillas.

  • Barcelona’s goal difference is an incredible +71, but at one stage earlier this season they were threatening to break the 100 barrier.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
13Willy CaballeroGoalkeeper
18EliseuMidfielder
3WeligtonDefender
4Kris StadsgaardDefender
2Jesús GámezDefender
17DudaMidfielder
6CamachoMidfielder
21Sebastián Fernández MiglierinaStriker
10ApoñoMidfielder
16Vincenzo MarescaMidfielder
26JuanmiStriker
45RecioMidfielder
27PortilloMidfielder
-Sandro SilvaMidfielder
1Francesc Arnau GrabalosaGoalkeeper
-ManoloDefender
-Hélder RosarioDefender
-FernandoMidfielder
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
17MaxwellDefender
22Éric AbidalDefender
3Andreu Fontàs PratDefender
15BartraDefender
21AdrianoDefender
24Sergi RobertoMidfielder
6Thiago AlcántaraMidfielder
-Jeffrén SuárezStriker
-Bojan KrkicStriker
19Ibrahim AfellayMidfielder
22Daniel AlvesDefender
16BusquetsMidfielder
-Seydou KeitaMidfielder
7PedroStriker
-OierGoalkeeper
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
12Jonathan Dos SantosMidfielder
Players to Watch
Júlio Baptista
Júlio Baptista
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 19
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0

If at all possible, Julio Baptista will be in the Malaga starting XI, and he has shown that he has the potential to seriously disrupt Barcelona. Though he’s struggled to settle in recent years, the Brazilian’s form has been irreproachable since returning to Spain in January. He has struck nine goals in 11 appearances, including four headers. Barca beware.

Pedro
Pedro
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
37 15 3 0
With places in the starting XI for the Champions League final up for grabs, Pedro is one of the few players in the Barcelona unit who finds himself under pressure going into this clash. The young attacker has failed to sparkle in recent times, having found the net only twice since the beginning of February, and he’ll be looking to take a goal and some increased confidence to Wembley.
Prediction
This could prove to be a really significant test for Barcelona, particularly if thoughts are already drifting towards next weekend’s fixture in London. Indeed, after being held by Deportivo La Coruna at home last weekend, it would be little surprise to see the Catalans drop more points against a team who have been in excellent touch of late. Guardiola, however, will want to see a strong squad offer more, and a narrow away victory is probable.

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Editor's Prediction
Malaga 1

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