Malaga suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Estadio El Toralín in the city of Ponferrada on Sunday night, dropping four spots to tenth in La Liga 2.
Captained by Yuri de Souza, Ponferradina stormed the game, assisted by Malaga’s lack of attitude, disastrous positioning, terrible interpretation and inability to match the momentum of their opponents. Making the same mistakes repeatedly, the first half of the match was written off by José Alberto and his players, who failed to take advantage of their set pieces.
Shown up by Ponferradina’s well-rehearsed tactics, which ultimately culminated in victory, Malaga’s defence were left exposed and out of place. In midfield, Escassi and Jozabed failed to influence the game despite the players showcasing their ability to do so against Girona the previous week.
As an attacking threat, Fernández and Brandon offered no outlet for the rest of the team and were dominated by Ponferradina's stubborn defence. The wingers, Paulino and Kevin, confirmed that they only perform well in the comfort of La Rosaleda, and upfield, Roberto could barely intervene. Each movement from the opposition therefore posed a hazard.
With Malaga trailing 2-0 at half time, José Alberto finally reacted and restructured the team, replacing Roberto with Enríquez to ensure stability in the centre of the midfield. Changes were also made on the wing with Abaida replacing Villodres.
There was little room to see the effectiveness of these substitutions in practice as Malaga mirrored their poor performance in the first half. Goals scored by Souza in the fifty-third minute and Medina in the eighty-third minute, facilitated by Ponferradina’s encouragement in attack and a total lack of defence by Malaga, signalled the end to a mortifying defeat.
"We have been unrecognisable," José Alberto stated afterwards. Probably such an assertion by the Malaga coach was framed in an overall assessment of the first six matchdays and, above all, conditioned by the remarkable performance a week before against Girona at home.
However, analysis of the three away games played to date, which culminated in a draw in extremis and two clear defeats leads to the conclusion that Malaga are struggling in away games.
José Alberto will have to push his players psychologically – especially considering that the next match is in El Molinón against Sporting Gijón (currently second in the table) – to bring the successes achieved in the comfort of their home stadium to those games played away.