Disappointing results against the likes of Sheffield United, AZ Alkmaar and Lazio leave Malaga with work to do before the start of the new season against Eibar this Monday.
Despite their run of bad form, coach Míchel maintains that the team are “ready to compete” and claims that results in this period are of little importance, although he may be holding his concerns close to his chest. The hope which Míchel’s arrival in March had brought to the club has been somewhat diluted by the dreary preseason performances.
The run of poor form could be put down to several factors. The departures of key players have damaged the strength of the first eleven. The losses of goalkeeper Carlos Kameni (to Fenerbahçe), defender Diego Llorente (who returned to Real Madrid after a season-long loan and is now at Real Sociedad) and midfielder Ignacio Camacho (to German side Wolfsburg) are among some of the more damaging blows to the squad.
Malaga have been active in this summer transfer window. New signings Emanuel Cecchini and Diego González both featured in the Costa del Sol Cup, but the 1-0 defeat against Lazio made for a bitter debut.
The 20-year-old Argentinian midfielder Cecchini’s first minutes in a Malaga shirt were disappointing; his performance in the centre of the park was timid and lacked conviction.
On the other hand, the ex-Sevilla central defender, Diego González, seemed comfortable and competent at the back and looks to be a promising addition to Míchel’s first eleven.
Manager Míchel opted for an intensive preseason schedule this summer totalling nine opponents, only three of whom do not play top flight football in their respective countries.
The rigorous fixture list seems to have jeopardised the team’s training, and Malaga almost always arrived less prepared than their opponents, as was clear against Sheffield in Coín last month.
Although results may suggest a crisis at Malaga, there are still reasons to be optimistic. The victory against Villarreal will give a confidence boost to the team and fans. The extra-time winner, scored by Adrián just ten seconds before the final whistle, proves that Malaga can still compete at the top level in Spain. Míchel set up in a 5-4-1 formation, giving the team defensive stability and enabled them to retain possession of the ball for large spells of the game.
Malaga host Eibar at the Roselada stadium this Monday at 10pm, marking the beginning of their tenth consecutive campaign in top flight Spanish football.