Saturday, February 27, 22:00 CET – Camp Nou, Barcelona
There are bigger fish to fry in La Liga than the one tonight for FC Barcelona, not withstanding all games are of significance and this game is another stepping stone to achieving the clubs ultimate goal of 2009/10.
Tonight, in the wake of the Blaugrana’s worst run of matches in 2010 wherein Pep Guardiola’s troops succumbed to debilitating results against Atletico Madrid and Stuttgart respectably, Barcelona will take on mid table Malaga CF who, despite their lacklustre squad ‘on paper’, their tendency to under perform against easier opposition and their ‘lower side of La Liga’ tag, have an impressive recent record and have already caused some hassle in the Catalunya camp.
The Estadio La Rosaleda played host to Malaga and Barcelona as the two sides began to enter their stride in the wake of the new season, the pitch may have that day been engulfed in a drenching sunlight, but it wasn’t long before a typhoon of hatred and brutality cast itself over the game as a blood-bath soon emerged between the two sides resulting in a mammoth 7 bookings in total as questionable refereeing saw to it that this number was held lower then could have been possible.
An enraged Barcelona entered the field instantly frustrated as Malaga opted for an aggressive all-out defensive approach as the Boquerones took aim against the Blaugrana players, resulting in Thierry Henrys early departure via a knock, enter Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who made the most of a sublime Lionel Messi chip to make it 1-0 for the Blaugrana, only for Gerard Pique to double the score line before full time despite Malaga coming frightfully close on numerous occasions.
And this time, they may even come closer.
Barcelona have seemingly taken a nap from what has been a 3 year dominance of world footballing affairs. A dire draw with Stuttgart midweek drained the Catalans as fatigue became apparent late in the second half, meanwhile Malaga are well rested and well in form as they prepare for the daunting task that is the Camp Nou.
As aforementioned Barcelona’s form of late is nothing to be proud of, with a loss and a draw positioning themselves on either side of a 4-0 win to Racing Santander. In normal circumstances form like this for the Blaugrana would not be enough to stress over, however with Malaga currently in the eye of a hot-streak it is difficult to Culés to leave their nails unscaved for the coming hours.
Three wins and one draw for Malaga over the past month with most notably a 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid the most impressive for an in-form Malaga side who have begun leap-frogging their way up the table in what should be another successful relegation-free season for Juan Ramon Muniz’s men.
Barcelona’s injury devastation has begun to settle down as all players begin to return to full training, however despite this French left back Eric Abidal and Malian midfielder Seydou Keita will both remain sidelined whilst Dani Alves has been named in Guardiola’s 20 man squad.
Predicted Starting XI, Barcelona: Valdes – Dani Alves – Chygrynskiy – Pique – Maxwell – Xavi – Toure – Iniesta – Messi – Ibrahimovic – Pedro
Jesus Gamez is suspended after seeing red against Espanyol last weekend whilst Jordi Pablo, Apono, Patrick Mtiliga and Helder Rosario will all sit the game out due to injury.
Predicted Starting XI, Malaga: Munua – Gaspar – Weligton – Stepanov – Miguel Torres – Toribio – Fernando – Lopez – Baha – Duda – Obinna
Unfortunately it would be unwise of a fan to predict anything other than Malaga ‘parking the bus’ in tonight’s encounter as the Camp Nou bares witness to a game that may take up to an hour to be broken open by an undefeated at home Barcelona frontline who will – through perseverance – pull their side across the line.
Barcelona 1 – 0 Malaga