The Malaga players celebrate Vadillo's goal in the game against Real Valladolid. / MAVALPHOTO

Malaga back on track thanks to the Guede effect

Despite drawing against Real Valladolid, the Blue and Whites gained one point over their relegation rivals directly below

SERGIO CORTÉS / ANTONIO GÓNGORA /

Malaga's newly appointed head coach, Pablo Guede, could not have asked for a more energetic start to his time at the club than the Blue and Whites' 2-2 draw against Real Valladolid on Saturday evening.

While many fans would have accepted a draw before the game - as Valladolid are fifth in the table and have one of the best squads in the division - Malaga's positive performance meant that the final result was a wasted opportunity.

Despite the Andalusians throwing away a 2-0 lead, the Guede effect was in full swing, and the Argentinian coach has already instilled his values in the players - passion, determination and hard work.

Key changes

The game could be summarised in two key plays: the moment Malaga went 2-0 up, which was achieved thanks to their stifling pressure as instructed by Guede; and when the visitors equalised, in part thanks to Febas playing at left-back when it's not the position he usually plays. Malaga were about to make the necessary changes when Valladoid brought things level.

Guede introduced a 5-3-2 formation, knowing the strength of the opposition. The full-backs often pushed up the pitch to be able to put on the pressure, but it wasn't as effective as it could have been because the two strikers, Brandon and Vadillo, didn't always give their all.

Moreover, Febas and Jozabed were often covering the gaps left by the full-backs, which means that Malaga are still very fragile at the back - and paid the price for it when they conceded the second goal. The Blue and Whites were more stable afterwards, when they switched to a 4-1-4-1, which better-suited the players on the pitch.

Increasing the gap

While at a first glance it might seem like Malaga dropped two points, in reality they increased the gap to the relegation zone by one point, as the Andalusians' rivals below them all performed worse, meaning that it was a nearly perfect weekend.

Real Sociedad B were the first team to lose, as they fell to Tenerife before Malaga's game, and the fans breathed a collective sigh of relief as the Basque side had gained a lot of momentum in the last few weeks.

Amorebieta were also stopped in their tracks, as they narrowly lost 1-0 in the Canary Island to Las Palmas. The icing on the cake came on Sunday, when Fuenlabrada also failed to pick up any points, instead losing 3-2 to Huesca.

That means that Malaga go into the last seven games of the season with a seven-point advantage over Amorebieta and Real Sociedad B, and nine points ahead of Fuenlabrada. The Blue and Whites have some tough ties ahead and will face Leganés away from home on Saturday at 4pm.