Jornada 13: Elche vs Malaga
On Sunday 19 November 2006, Malaga travelled to play second bottom club, Elche. Surely a chance for the blue and whites to get a first win for the new manager, Muniz (pronounced Moo-ny-eeth) whose tenure of two and half weeks has produced no wins, one draw and two defeats so far.
After last week's debacle against Ponferradina, Muniz had stated in the press that he was going to ring the changes and out went Cesar Navas and Perico from the squad. However, there was still no opportunity for the two Serbs, Ristic and Stosic, who are still to make their first team debuts in the league since signing in the summer.
In a strange (for Muniz) 4-4-2 line-up, Edgar is preferred to Chengue Morales as a striker up front with Salva and Schurrer retains his place in defence forming a new partnership with Silva.
Elche (4-1-4-1): Caballero; Mario, Fernando Niño, Benja, Bernaus; Pere Martí; Calderón, Alfredo, Manolo Pérez, Bellvís; Miguel.
Málaga (4-4-2): Arnau; Jesús Gámez, Schurrer, Silva, Valcarce; Saúl, OJ Morales, Hidalgo, Calleja; Edgar and Salva.
According to the local newspaper, Sur, Malaga dominated the game from start to finish and in the first half in particular, the new defensive set-up looked very confident and assured. However, Malaga, despite their superiority in possession, only mustered two shots to bother Caballero in the Elche goal; the first a terrific volley from Calleja which forced a fine save from the keeper and the second a miss-kick from Salva standing alone in front of the goal.
In the second half, Malaga started again in similar fashion to keep the pressure on the Elche defence. However, in a sad five minutes, Malaga were undone again with two defensive errors; firstly in the 56 minute, when Bellvis took advantage of a mix-up between the defenders to score and then again in 61' when Calderon twice beat Valcarce and sent in a magnificent cross for Miguel to head home.
Malaga immediately substituted Valcarce for Ernesto and then brought on Chengue Morales for Saul. In this reshuffle, Calleja dropped to left back, with Ernesto on the left wing and Edgar dropped back to right wing to allow Chengue to move up front in attack.
The changes must have worked as Malaga pulled one back in 67' when first Silva then Salva pounced on a free kick taken by Calleja.
Silva was then immediately substituted for Sandro, with the little playmaker moving to midfield and OJ Morales moving back into the centre of defence alongside Schurrer.
Despite dominating the rest of the match as Elche defended in depth to protect their lead, Malaga were unable to score again (and indeed were almost caught out on the break, with Arnau having to make a save to stop a certain third goal) and the game finished Elche 2 Malaga 1.
The referee showed 10 yellow cards during the match including Edgar, Calleja and Sandro for Malaga.
A disappointing result (to say the least) as Malaga plunge down the table and are only two points above the relegation zone. It doesn't get any easier for Muniz as next week's home game is against high Salamanca, currently occupying one of the top three promotion slots. Another tough game and another which is a "must win" for Malaga if this season is not to become a worse disaster than last season. Never fear, Your Malaga CF Correspondent will be there.