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Malaga in 2013: from best Champions League newcomers back to the mediocre side in La Liga. A veteran fan and reporter looks back over the year
31.12.13 - 10:59 -
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Disappointment, departures and decline
The most memorable image of 2013 - the desolation of the Malaga players after the controversial defeat in Dortmund. :: SALVADOR SALAS
There’s no doubt that a look back at Malaga CF in 2013 is a lot different to the previous year’s review. Malaga have gone back to being a poor team, and the sheikh has disappeared with the goose that laid the golden eggs. Ignorant of football in Spain, he lacked guidance. You only have to look at his squandering in the first year, with Jesualdo Ferreira at the helm of the team and the least profitable signings in history (Galatto, Malagueño and company). This required reinforcements to save the season (Maresca, Caballero, Baptista, Demichelis...).
At the beginning of 2013, the Blue and Whites were still enjoying the euphoria of their journey through Europe. Reaching the quarter-finals in the Champions League left us entranced by the achievements of the best newcomers in the history of the tournament.
We were abruptly awoken from our dream by the referee who blatantly took our place in the semi-finals from under our noses in Dortmund, and later the arbitrary decision of UEFA to go ahead with sanctions. Restructuring was needed. Malaga became what they had always been: a selling club. They had no choice.
The work of Pellegrini saved Malaga from suffering the deflation in the league typical of so many modest clubs that dare to venture into Europe. He brought them up to a commendable sixth position at the end of the season: just reward for a job well done. But there was no ticket back to Europe; they already knew that.
Malaga had survived its first loss of players but a second round of exits began on June 30th, seriously reducing Malaga’s aspirations for the new season. Contracts were not renewed. La Rosaleda had to wave goodbye to Saviola, Demichelis, Baptista and Iturra whose departure made no difference to the club’s coffers. Meanwhile Toulalan, Joaquín and Isco were sold.
In their place came footballers nobody had heard of. None had any experience in a team of international prestige. The arrival of Chen, Anderson or Pawlowski was a sign of a change in criteria.
Malaga end 2013 in the middle of the league table (tenth): nothing to be sneered at. In fact the 20 points are possibly more than some sensible supporters had expected for this point in the season. When he said it was going to be a difficult season, Schuster was not exaggerating.
In 2013 Malaga scored 51 points. However the goal difference between 2012 and 2013 is significant. At the end of 2012 we had accumulated 80 goals in League, Cup and Champions. This year’s total is 54, and the 67 goals conceded end the year with a deficit. In total the year has seen just 13 victories, 19 defeats and 12 draws.
La Rosaleda has been as usual Malaga’s weak spot: too many points have been lost at home.
The best and the worst
2013 has seen the good and the bad. The best news, without a doubt, is that Malaga are still in the first division. Also something to celebrate is the success of local boy Isco, the great surprise in national and European football whose merits have taken him to Real Madrid.
As for the team’s best performances, they peaked in the Porto game at home and the Borussia game in Dortmund, a loss that Malaga fans will never forget.
The worst moment of the year is just as easy to identify, as we are still smarting from the blow: the five-goal hammering by Celta in La Rosaleda.
The clearest conclusion to be reached after 2013 is that Malaga have gone back to what they were before, a modest club in La Liga, although their historic adventure in the Champions League has left its indelible mark.