Malaga's revival definitively came to an end on Sunday evening as they were held at home by a stubborn Fuenlabrada side.
The only thing that can be said in the Blue and Whites’ defence is that, as so often this season, injuries to an already wafer-thin squad demanded a creative line-up. With Adrián, David Lombán and Armando Sadiku injured and Keidi Bare suspended, Juanpi, Diego González, Hicham and Mohamed Benkhemassa deputised.
This makeshift Malaga failed to impress, however, and the visitors from Madrid were content to sit back and count on their opponents’ inability to create chances. Malaga’s midfield were not adventurous enough in their play to trouble Fuenlabrada’s defence, with neither Juanpi nor Benkhemassa forcing their side forwards or breaking the defensive lines.
Renato Santos forced off by injury
Things livened up a bit when Renato Santos, forced off by a muscular problem, was replaced by Badr Boulahroud, which allowed Juanpi to switch to the right flank, where he was far more effective. However, as Víctor has often lamented, his side needs to be more clinical in front of goal, and they squandered a handful of decent chances again in the first half, with Mikel aiming a tame header from a free-kick straight at Biel Ribas.
The hosts had a few chances in the second half as well, the best of which came when Hicham swung in an inviting low cross, but Diego González could only divert the ball narrowly wide from inside the six-yard box.
Generally, though, any danger the hosts created in the second half came from individual actions from the likes of Cifu and Dani Pacheco, and they were too few and far between for the visitors to feel any real pressure. Malaga’s play as a team was often disjointed, and never seemed to have any real drive or purpose.
Fuenlabrada never particularly threatened Malaga’s goal. Malaga’s efforts to take the lead left them chances to counter, but both Anderson and Hugo Fraile were careless with the ball each time the break was on.
Ultimately, though, Fuenlabrada will likely be happier with the result than their hosts, who are left in 17th place, but only one point off the drop zone.
Víctor praises defensive display
In his post-match press conference, Víctor, who served the second and final match of his touchline ban on Sunday, was again keen to praise his team’s performance, despite another questionable display. He stated, “The defence was very reliable, very solid. Fuenlabrada are a good counter-attacking side, but we controlled them well, especially considering we were exposed to breakaways because we had so much of the ball.”
Nevertheless, he recognised that his team need to be more clinical in attack: “If you don’t score, you can’t take three points. We need to keep working on our attacking play to get victories. We can only thank the players for their commitment and attitude, and work to improve our efficiency in front of goal.”
Malaga’s next fixture is a trip to 11th-placed Alcorcón on Sunday. Since several key players will be away on international duty, Víctor will be hoping the likes of Adrián, Lombán and now Renato Santos will have shaken off their injuries by next weekend.