On Sunday, 11th placed Málaga will host league leaders Real Madrid for the final match of La Liga this season. Málaga do not have much to play for, as they cannot finish any higher in the table and can only drop as low as 13th.
However, Real Madrid will be fighting to secure the league title, beating bitter rivals Barcelona to the top spot. The capital club only need to avoid defeat to finally become champions, assuming Barcelona win their final match against Eibar.
Real Madrid also have their sights set on a Champions League final, which may affect the team selection. Zinedine Zidane will need to balance his side’s priorities to give the team the best chance of winning all of their competitions.
• Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in his last 15 games against Malaga, but only two of them have gone past current goalkeeper Carlos Kameni
• Real Madrid have only lost once in their last 15 La Liga away matches against Málaga (W9 D5)
• Madrid have the opportunity to score in every game of a single season for the first time ever
• Madrid’s current streak of scoring in 63 consecutive competitive matches is the longest ever run by a team in the top five European leagues
• Real Madrid have the chance to win their 33rd league title and their first one since 2012
Málaga currently have injuries to Juanpi, Kuzmanović, Roberto Rosales, and Koné. Their missing players have hardly held them back, though, since Málaga have some decent form heading into the match.
The Andalusians are unbeaten in their last five games, including a thrilling 4-2 win against Sevilla. They have only dropped points once in this run, and only away from home. This seems to hint at a strong home performance on Sunday.
Real Madrid are missing injured players James, Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal, and Pepe. But they have coped very well without these star players, with Zidane’s rotations coming in quite handy at this point in the season.
Madrid have not dropped points since their 3-2 loss to Barcelona in El Clásico. Their dominant form has kept their place at the top of the table safe so far, leaving their fate in their own hands. Now the club’s task is made even easier since a draw will still grant them the title.
Málaga (4-2-3-1): Kameni; Ricca, Hernández, Llorente, Torres; Recio, Fornals; Juankar, Keko, Jony; Ramírez
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Ronaldo, Benzema, Isco
Real Madrid will likely play their usual game of high possession in the opponent’s half to control the tempo while creating an overwhelming number of chances.
Their superior midfield combined with skilled wide players means that they are able to create chances from all over the pitch. Decisive passes through the middle, crosses from out wide, and frequent shots are just some of the weapons at Madrid’s disposal.
Málaga can retaliate by defending aggressively and countering with pace, especially through their top scorer Sandro and their wingers. Having the home support on their side will give them a bit of an edge that could allow Málaga to grab a goal and defend resolutely to get a result from the would-be champions.
Málaga 1-3 Real Madrid
Although Málaga have been a solid team recently with excellent home form, the desire of Real Madrid to break their title drought will most likely be too much for their opponents. The Whites are almost guaranteed to score a goal with their attacking options, making it that much more difficult for Málaga.
Málaga may also have decent chances to score, especially against Madrid’s somewhat leaky defense. But outscoring this European powerhouse does not appear to be the likely outcome. By the end of the match, Real Madrid may very well have title celebrations to look forward to.