Jornada 10: Malaga vs Valladolid
Sunday afternoon, 17:30h, and although it's the end of October, the digital clock/thermometer outside the stadium shows 25C. Malaga are at home to promotion rivals Valladolid, relegated two seasons ago and who, after failing to return in one season, sacked their manager, Marcus Alonso; yes, now Malaga's manager.
After last week's debacle at Jerez, Malaga badly need the points from this home game to keep them in touch with the leaders. In midweek, in the Copa del Rey (the Spanish equivalent of the FA Cup), Malaga fielded a team made up of mostly squad members in the first leg against First Division Real Sociedad and won 4-1. (This defeat prompted the dismissal of Sociedad's manager, former Malaga B manager, Bakero.) So there was some confidence back in the squad going into this league match. However, Malaga's poor disciplinary record and 4 defeats and a draw in the opening 9 games of the season, meant that Alonso had to produce a win to stay in his job. So Alonso promised an attacking 4-4-2 formation and paired Salva and Counago in a starting line-up, which required other changes as both Romero and Cesar Navas were both suspended.
Malaga (4-4-2): Arnau; Jesus Gamez, Armando, Silva and Jesule; Saul, Hidalgo, OJ Morales and Calleja; Salva and Counago.
Valladolid (4-2-3-1): Alberto; Lopez, Baraja, Bea and Marcos; Borja and Rubio; Sisi, Victor and Capdevilla; Llorente.
In front of a 12,000 noisy crowd, Valladolid start the brighter of the teams from the kick off and Borja tries a shot from just outside the centre circle in the first minute which Arnau was glad to see go just wide.
The game is being played at a quick pace with the action swinging from end to end, although Valladolid look more assured and confident when in possession.
Llorente, top scorer in the Second Division so far with 5 goals, is proving a handful for the Malaga defence and goes close on two occasions and then is just offside when through on Arnau.
In 12' the first booking of the game is Hidalgo for a tackle from behind.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 1 Valladolid 0)
In 14' Llorente strikes the post after Malaga fail to clear a free kick.
Malaga are pinned back in their own half as the visitors keep up the pressure on Arnau's goal. Silva has to make a last ditch tackle to prevent Sisi from scoring.
In 19' Llorente is booked for jockeying Arnau.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 1 Valladolid 1)
In 26', Malaga's defence, which has been in disarray all season, is made to look really foolish when Saul and Armando go for the same ball and clash in midfield allowing Capdevilla to run alone the entire half of the field with only Arnau between him and the goal. Fortunately the attacking midfielder shoots narrowly wide.
Rubio is next to try his luck from 30 yards but his shot is just over.
In 36' Llorente goes for a 50/50 ball with Silva. His feet are highish but Silva bends down to attempt to head the ball. The referee says it's a foul and a second booking for Llorente and he's sent off.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 1 Valladolid 1; Reds: Malaga 0 Valladolid 1)
Malaga should have their best chance now. Valladolid are down to ten men with their main goal threat and top scorer has been sent off.
However, it's still Valladolid who maintain the pressure on Arnau's goal and in 40' Morales is booked for high feet.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 2 Valladolid 1; Reds: Malaga 0 Valladolid 1)
In 45' it's Malaga's first real attempt on goal. A run by Calleja down the left wing and his cross finds Salva in the box. The burly striker gets his head to it but sends his shot wide of the post.
Half time: Malaga 0 Valladolid 0
Alonso makes two substitutions at half time. Off come Hidalgo (who disappeared from sight after his booking in the 12th minute) and Jesule (who looks more comfortable as a centre back than a full back). Instead, Sandro takes Hidalgo's place in the centre of midfield with Perico moving onto the left wing, with Calleja dropping back into defence.
In 47' Jesus Gamez is booked for a tackle from behind after giving away the ball cheaply.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 3 Valladolid 1; Reds: Malaga 0 Valladolid 1).
It's still 10 man Valladolid who look likely to score first and Victor almost finishes off a good move with a glancing header.
In 51' Counago gets his head onto a cross from Perico, but the ball goes over the bar.
In 53' Sisi is replaced by giant Suarez for Valladolid.
In 56' OJ Morales receives his second yellow card for deliberate hand ball and he's off.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 3 Valladolid 1; Reds: Malaga 1 Valladolid 1)
So it's 10 against 10 and any advantage Malaga should have had is wiped out.
It's still all Valladolid and Suarez should have scored after good work from Capdevilla.
In 61' Rubio is booked for a foul on Perico.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 3 Valladolid 2; Reds: Malaga 1 Valladolid 1)
In 68' Salva goes down with Baraja in a tackle for which he's booked.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 4 Valladolid 2; Reds: Malaga 1 Valladolid 1).
He stupidly does not retreat quickly enough to allow the free kick to be taken and is yellow carded again and he's sent off.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 3 Valladolid 2; Reds: Malaga 2 Valladolid 1)
Valladolid make an immediate change and take off Capdevilla for Alvara.
Malaga replace the ineffective Saul with Molinero, who assumes the right back position, with Jesus Gamez pushed into an anchor-type midfield role.
In 71' Borja is booked for a foul on Perico.
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 3 Valladolid 3; Reds: Malaga 2 Valladolid 1)
In 74' Molinero is booked for a foul on Victor but he should have been sent off as he was "last man."
(Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 4 Valladolid 3; Reds: Malaga 1 Valladolid 1)
In 76' the inevitable happens: Valladolid score and it's substitute Alvaro who makes no mistake from 8 yards when Victor's pass finds him alone in the box with the Malaga defence static.
Malaga 0 Valladolid 1
The very next minute and it could have been two for the visitors. Rubio's lobbed effort from 30 yards lands in the top of the net's roofing.
In 78' Armando gets the closest to a goal yet for Malaga when he heads on another's header in a crowded box. Somehow Alberto gets a hand to it to make the save.
In 79' Rubio is replaced by Hernandez.
Malaga are all at sea for the remaining 10 minutes as Valladolid run amok but fail to score again despite intense pressure. The referee added to more names to his book before the final whistle, Victor for a foul on Armando and Suarez for timewasting.
Final Card Count: Yellows: Malaga 3 Valladolid 5; Reds: Malaga 2 Valladolid 1
Final Score: Malaga 0 Valladolid 1
The worst display by any Malaga side I have seen in the past four seasons and even worse that last week against Xerez. This result pushes Malaga into 14th position in the table only two points off the relegation places. A grave faced Club President Fernando Sanz left the ground at the end of the game and by the time we had got home from the match, we had learned that Alonso had been sacked. Anon, the assistant manager, has been put in charge of the first team pending the appointment of a successor.
Only 10 games into the season, but far from romping home every week against inferior opposition, Malaga find themselves too close to the relegation zone.
Alonso had to go: he showed no tactical ability, no awareness of his players' abilities, no motivation, no organisation and no discipline. In short, he was shite. His legacy is a squad shattered with no confidence and the worst disciplinary record in Spain (if not the world) and where so many of the bookings have been avoidable.
The next game is away to Lorca and is being televised live on national TV in Spain on Saturday 18:30h. Malaga may or may not have a new manager in place by then. We shall see. We shall require a massive improvement in all departments if Malaga is going to succeed in their aim to be promoted this season and a win is imperative on Saturday.
The next home game is on 12 November against newcomers Ponferradina. Never fear, Your Malaga CF Correspondent will be there.