After a week of rest over the festive period, the Malaga first team returned to the training field on Monday after undergoing coronavirus testing ahead of a busy run of matches which will ultimately decide their season.
When the football returns this weekend, the fixture list will be congested for the Blue and Whites, with three matches in six days, followed by a break coinciding with the Spanish Supercup, held in Andalucía (the semi-final between Real Madrid and Athletic will take place at La Rosaleda on Thursday 14 January).
On Sunday the Blue and Whites will visit Albacete, before receiving Real Oviedo in the second round of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. Three days later, on Saturday 9, they will host the Asturians again, this time in the league.
If Malaga progress to the third round of the cup, three more games will follow before the end of the month. That could elevate to a total of seven if they make it to the last 16.
In the meantime, the players must prepare themselves for the physical challenge ahead after their short break. On the plus side, players with injuries have had time to recover and a new face has joined the squad.
Calero's replacement arrives
With right-back Iván Calero ruled out for the rest of the season through injury, the club have already moved to sign his replacement: Venezuela international Alexander González.
In cases such as these, La Liga allows an emergency signing to be made. This means Malaga have 18 professionals on the books but can't sign anyone else unless they sell someone. However, at this stage, SUR understands, the club is not considering selling any first-team player, unless their release clause is paid.
The 28-year-old right-back was officially unveiled on Monday and joins after a bad experience with Dinamo București in Romania, where he, and a group of other players, went three months without pay.
González returns to Spain’s second division, where he played for five years with Huesca, Elche and Mirandés before heading to Romania.
The full-back, who has 48 international caps, is excited about his new challenge: "It had to be a big club for me to return to Segunda, and Malaga is among the biggest. I am one hundred per cent ready to train and adapt as quickly as possible."
González also said that he spoke to the other Venezuelans who played for the team before taking a final decision. "As soon as they found out they contacted me and told me that the city is fantastic. In fact I was here last summer on holiday", said the footballer, who had been in Malaga since Saturday to sign his new contract.