Málaga CF vs. FC Barcelona
La Rosaleda, Malaga
La Liga Day 1 –Rescheduled match-
22 Jan – 6:00pm
In their previous game, FC Barcelona cleaned the Camp nou with the boys from the south, beating them with an easy 4-1, with a straightforward drive of hard defense and a powerful front line. See the goal details below:
FC Barcelona vs Malaga CF – January 17th, 2011
08′ [1 – 0] A. Iniesta
18′ [2 – 0] D. Villa
36′ [3 – 0] P. Rodriguez
68′ [3 – 1] Duda
74′ [4 – 1] D. Villa
Watch the video highlights from FC Barcelona v’s Malaga on Jan 17th, 2011
This game however, is one of the most difficult remaining in La Liga for the reigning champions to successfully defend their title. Malaga, on the other hand will be looking to merely obtain some points for a shot at their place in the European Cup.
The Malaga boys have not had the best start to the year in La Liga, but with former Espanyol keeper Kameni under their belt, just recently signed, there may be some hope for the boys in blue, after Willy Cabellero’s butter-fingers blunder cost them the tie with Real Madrid only a short time ago.
Pellegrini will probably be happy to draw with the Catalan campeones, to keep the fans happy as he has been under much scrutiny following his poor season to date. With Van Nistelrooy in attack, Malaga can only hope to shake the Barca boys a little, as Malaga have really struggled to score in the past few matches, let alone enter the other half of the pitch at all. Pellegrini is expected to have his boys defend as solidly as possible, and only hope that FC Barcelona have a poor away game, as so far this season, this seems to be their only weakness in their gameplay.
With Real Madrid currently holding a five point lead at the top of La Liga, Barca have no margin for error. If they wish to win their fourth consecutive title, they simply can’t afford to lose.
Barcelona’s away record this season has been quite poor – in eight away games, the club has only won three, tied four and lost one. This is a record that needs to change; if not, FC Barcelona will soon be out of the title race. With this in mind, Guardiola should start with a similar lineup as at Bernabeu when they faced Real Madrid. With Pedro and Villa both out, Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi are pretty much the only forwards that Pep Guardiola can choose from. There’s also the youngster Isaac Cuenca, but as he has not been in the first team for very long and it’s unlikely that he will start for such an important game.
FC Barcelona’s strategy will be possession football, owning the field, looking for gaps in the Malaga defense, and pressing them as soon as they lose the ball. They need to be quick and urgent in their play, something that has been lacking in the away games this season and that is necessary for Barca to bag the three points.
It is hard to predict the final score for this game, as Barcelona have failed to impress in their away games and their mindset may be focused on the next El Clasico rather than in La Roselada, but we in the office reckon it will be a 3-2 win for FC Barcelona, with Messi upping his away game scoreboard. What do you think? Predict the score here.