PEDRO LUIS ALONSO
Monday, 3 October 2022, 10:27
Burgos' goalkeeper José Antonio Caro, unknown by many, remains unbeaten in the opening eight games of the season while playing for a club with few to no professional players; Andorra, debutants in the second division, are currently in the play-offs after impressive results against Levante and Granada and are Malaga's next opponents... Meanwhile, the Blue and Whites, who had regrouped very well over the summer and had set their sights on promotion once again, continue to suffer at the bottom of the table.
The argument that the league has only just begun is becoming less and less of a viable excuse for the team's current situation. The same goes for head coach Pepe Mel's "we need to make it three [points] from three" that he's said since arriving at the club.
As another week goes by, it's now Malaga's third time at the very bottom, very far from their pre-season objectives and with fewer excuses than ever. The change of manager argument has been used up and Mel has not yet delivered results.
It can be argued that the Blue and Whites' coach has improved the team and guided them away from last place or that he has yet to lose a game. But on the flipside, the two draws he has managed mean that the team has let slip four valuable points, making it five from 24 on offer so far this campaign.
To get a real feel of how bad Malaga's points tally is, they would finish the season with just 26 points if they maintain this form. It's a long way from the 40 points usually needed to survive the season and avoid relegation.
The Andalusians have only won a single game, and it was against Mirandés, another club in the drop zone, who claim a lack of experienced players as their reason for doing badly.
Malaga aren't short on experience though. They have one of the divisions best-ever goalscorers in Rubén Castro, who has scored between 15 and 20 goals in the past four seasons; they aren't lacking in creative players, with Álex Gallar (two assists this campaign), Febas, Hervías (15 assists in 126 appearances) and Fran Villalba; while Manolo Reina, Juanfran, N'Diaye or Bustinza have played hundreds of matches between the first and second tier. But somehow, the Blue and Whites can't seem to hit the mark.
The reason for Malaga's bad form is becoming less and less clear. The gap between the better-performing sides is widening, to the point where the higher-placed teams would need to lose around three or four consecutive games for the Blue and Whites to catch up (and supposing they win).
Pepe Mel's side now have the worst goal difference in the division (-7), which say a lot about their lack of balance between their offensive and defensive performances.
The only real positive to come out of their goalless draw in Santander was that they were able to keep a clean sheet for the first time this season. It's something the Blue and Whites haven't managed since their 2-0 win over Tenerife in May, and that's including all of their pre-season friendlies.
Time will tell where Malaga will end up this season, but they need a big win at La Rosaleda against Andorra on Sunday at 9pm to keep their season objectives up and running.
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