Jornada 15: Malaga vs Real Madrid
Sunday 11 December 2005, 19:00h kick off. We've got jackets on for the first time this season to keep out the chilly cold 17C temperatures for the big match - the visit of Los Blancos from Madrid. It's a sell-out crowd, even with the tickets costing 125 - 250 euros and there is eager anticipation that Malaga might be able to get a result against a team with a new manager installed. Cara was the Real Madrid B team manager and is an old friend of Tapia, himself promoted from Malaga B team last year. They were colleagues in 1981-82 season at Fuengirola and have kept in touch over the years. But that is all put to one side for tonight's game.
There is no Raul (seen walking with a stick on Spanish TV at the World Cup draw, which, incidentally must surely have been fixed to give England such an easy group. As Alan Hansen said, "There can be no excuses now if England fail to win the competition".) There is also no Beckham, who has a sufficient knowledge of Spanish to get himself sent off every other game for dissent and misses the big one tonight on suspension. There is also no Woodgate, but then we're used to that. Roy Keane (rumoured to be brokering a two year deal with Real Madrid) is also absent, but not on Spanish sports programmes, who only show some of Keeno's most atrocious "tackles" and subsequent red cards as they seem to be trying to influence the giants in pure white.
It's still a formidable team which is announced on the giant scoreboards, filled with exciting multimillion pound, euro, dollar (any currency) talent. They line up in 4-2-3-1 formation as follows:
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Salgado, Pavon, Helguera and Roberto Carlos; Sergio Ramos and Guti; Robinho, Baptista and Zidane; Ronaldo.
Malaga have Gerardo absent on suspension and is place is taken by lanky Brazilian Anderson. Salva is fit again and returns in attack. There is a place for Uruguayan giant Morales on the bench, after his return from injury.
Malaga (4-2-3-1): Arnau; Alexis, Cesar, Fernando Sanz and Valcarce; Juan Rodriguez and Anderson; Edgar, Hidalgo and Nacho; Salva.
Real Madrid are in their famous all-white strip and win the toss, electing to defend the Gol end and attack the Fondo end.
The latest young Brazilian superstar to sign for Real Madrid, Robinho, is the first to show in 5' with some trickery down the right wing. He beats Valcarce with sheer pace and passes to the overlapping Salgado, who cuts in towards the goal and unleashes a shot which rises over the bar.
Real Madrid are looking good, with plenty of movement and pace, slick one touch passing and uncanny knowledge as to where their team-mates are without looking up. However, it's Anderson who is taking the limelight, breaking up several promising moves with good timing, positional play and intelligent tackling.
Guti, captain in Raul's absence, is the main conduit for Real Madrid for starting attacking moves from the back.
In 7' Guti's long pass upfield finds Ronaldo running into space and he whacks a powerful shot from 20 yards, but straight at Arnau.
In 8' Cesar is booking for bringing down Baptista at the half way line as the pacy Brazilian looked to be running away into a clear Malaga half. If Cesar had been closer to his own goal, he might have been sent off.
The following minute, as so often happens, the boot is on the other foot when Guti scythes down Juan Rodriguez in a similar situation.. When the referee fails to award the yellow card, there are howls and screams from the packed crowd.
Hidalgo takes the free kick and finds Edgar, who tries a volley which goes well wide.
In 11' wunderkid Sergio Ramos is brought down just outside the box by Cesar. There is some trepidation when Zidane steps up to take the kick, but it comes off the wall and the danger is cleared.
In 16' Edgar's clever run forces Salgado to give away a corner before Nacho's pass can find its mark. Hidalgo swings it from the left corner flag, Salva leaps forward and the ball is in the net. We're on our feet, but before the dancing can begin, the referee has spotted something wrong and the "goal" is disallowed.
It's Malaga in the ascendancy and they go close again in 22'. Hidalgo slips a through ball to Salva who turns past Sergio Ramos and unleashes a powerful shot. Casillas has to make an excellent save and tips the ball over.
The next minute and Hidalgo tries a shot, which Casillas elects to punch out of the crowded box. It lands at Edgar's feet, but his effort is weak and Casillas is able to gather the ball.
In 25' Sergio Ramos is booked for bringing down Edgar, who is causing problems with his pace down the right wing.
In 28' Anderson is booked for dissent after a foul is given after a perfectly good tackle on Zidane, who has many years of practice in falling over when he has lost the advantage with the ball.
In 31' Malaga's defence is caught napping as Roberto Carlos is allowed to overlap down the left and get in a superb cross for Ronaldo. In fact Robinho and Baptista are also waiting but fortunately for Malaga, Fernando Sanz recovers enough to block the shot and clear.
It's end to end stuff and Valcarce sends in a cross from the left after neat interchanges with Nacho. Hidalgo collects the pass and shoots and forces another excellent save from Casillas.
In 34' Robinho forces a corner on their left after ghosting in behind the defence and Alexis has no choice but to put it behind. Zidane takes the kick and SERGIO RAMOS makes a terrific run from deep to head the ball home. Malaga's defence had everybody in the box marked, but had not allowed for the run of the young superstar.
Malaga 0 Real Madrid 1
Four minutes later and Real Madrid go two up. This time Robinho wins the ball out on the right touchline and starts a run towards the goal. He runs past Valcarce, evades Fernando Sanz's tackle and keeps his balance as Cesar (remember he is 9'2") also makes a tackle attempt. The ball goes momentarily loose but ROBINHO finds the ball now at his left foot. No bother to the little Brazilian and his shot gives Arnau no chance, despite diving full length across the box.
Malaga 0 Real Madrid 2
In 44' we fear the worst as Zidane goes on a run, cutting in from the left. A few cross overs and shimmies later, he unleashes a great drive at the goal. Arnau has to make a great save to push the ball wide.
Half time Malaga 0 Real Madrid 2
In 46' Robinho eludes Valcarce yet again. It looks like the full back is booked for his tackle, but confirmation does not appear as usual on the giant scoreboard.
In 53' as Anderson dithers with the ball in the centre circle, the ball is whisked off him by Ronaldo and the terrifying sight from Malaga's point of view is of the three Brazilians, Robinho, Ronaldo and Baptista all bearing down on the Malaga goal with the defence posted absent. Ronaldo elects to pass to Baptista, when Robinho would have been the better bet. Baptista's effort however is on target and Arnau has to make another tremendous save to keep the score respectable.
In 55' Malaga almost get themselves back into the game, when Edgar gets to the byline and sends a lovely cross into the box. Unfortunately, Salva finds the ball behind him but somehow executes a fantastic bicycle kick which Casillas did well to save at point blank range.
In 57' Paco Estaban comes on for Hidalgo.
In 58' Anderson spots Edgar's run down the right. The pacy winger gets in a tremendous shot which Casillas has to dive full length to save.
In 62' Fernando Sanz's clearance falls at Zidane's feet. The Frenchman runs before releasing Ronaldo. The centre forward returns the ball perfectly for Zidane but his shot goes wide.
In 66' we have a "Roberto Carlos" moment. The ball is cleared from the crowded Malaga box to Roberto Carlos, standing alone in the centre circle. The full back elects to shoot! and the ball screams towards the goal, strikes the bar and goes over!
In 72' Juan Rodriguez has a couple of attempts. The first is weak and gathered easily. The second is a cross/shot which Casillas is glad to see go just wide of the far post.
In 73' Fernando Sanz is replaced by Morales, as Malaga go 3-5-2 in search of a goal.
It almost pays off immediately when the giant Uruguayan's beefy shot scrapes the bar as it goes over from just outside the box.
In 77' Valcarce is booked this time for tugging the shirt of Robinho.
In 80' good movement and interpassing between Salva and Morales finds the Uruguayan in the box but crowded out. He lays it back to Nacho who forces a dramatic two fisted punch out save from Casillas.
A rash of substitutions now takes place with first Pablo Garcia on for Baptista. Then Valcarce goes off for Diego Castro. Then Robinho is replaced by Diogo.
In the last minute, Malaga's final fling. Edgar gets in another excellent cross from the right. Morales is in the six yard box and meets the ball cleanly and powerfully with his head, but somehow Casillas manages to keep the ball out with another point blank save.
Full time Malaga 0 Real Madrid 2
Well, a good game, with plenty of skill and all that's good about the beautiful game, but not a good result for Malaga. Next week they are away to Racing Santander, who share joint 13th place in the league. Then the following Wednesday, Champion's League and all, fourth place Villarreal visit La Roseleda. Another tough game in store (aren't they all), but never fear, your Malaga CF Correspondent will be there.