Barça’s opponents tonight are looking to qualify for their first Champions League – boosted over the last couple of years by the millions of their Qatari owner Sheikh Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani and have already recorded their best ever season
The origins of the club lie in the 1940s and the current Málaga CF is the successor to CD
Málaga which was dissolved due to financial problems in 1992. They had some success in the
early seventies, when they spent seven seasons in the top flight, but their most memorable
period up until now was at the turn of the century when they won the Intertoto Cup in 2002
under Joaquin Peiro and were in the Primera from 1999 to 2006, before spending a couple
of years in the second division and then winning promotion again in 2008. The big change for
the club came in the summer of 2010, when Sheikh Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani forked out a
reported 36 million Euros and began to invest in big name players – and managers, with first
Jesualdo Ferreira and then Manel Pellegrini given the reins of the team, which was boosted by
players such as Martin Demichellis, Julio Baptista, Ruud van Nistelrooy and the most expensive
signing the club have ever made, Santi Cazorla.
Sunday’s 1-0 win over Valencia gave Málaga a real chance of taking third spot, drawing
level with Emery’s team and seemingly having the impetus to finish off the season in style.
However, they have not been the most consistent of teams, with just one win before the
Valencia game in their last five. On the road, Málaga have taken just 16 points from 17 games,
with only four wins –at Mallorca, Racing, Getafe and Espanyol.
ONE TO WATCH
Signed for a club record 20 million Euros, Santi Cazorla has had to live up to a lot of
expectations, but he has been Málaga’s outstanding player this season, playing more minutes
than any other player in the squad and is also currently the joint leading scorer with 9 goals.
Cazorla is a speedy, two footed midfielder who excels at beating players and also has a
vicious shot – particularly useful at free kicks. He was a member of Spain’s 2008 European
Championship winning squad, but was unlucky to miss out on the South African World Cup
after suffering a hernia. He was at Villarreal from 2003 to 2006, when he became Recreativo
de Huelva’s record signing, but Villarreal had included a buy back clause which they used the
following season to bring him back to El Madrigal.
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