Genaro controls the ball in the goalless draw against Real Oviedo. / MARIANO POZO

Malaga CF move out of the frying pan and into the fire

The Blue and Whites saw out a goalless draw with Real Oviedo as the gap to relegation shrinks to two points

SHAY CONAGHAN

Malaga made it three games without a win they drew 0-0 with 6th-place Real Oviedo, the most in-form side in the in the league who had won their previous six matches prior to stepping onto La Rosaleda’s pitch.

Pablo Guede made sure to keep the rival coach guessing about the Blue and Whites’ line-up, as the Argentine surprised most fans with some unexpected changes, most notably the inclusion of 20-year-old Víctor Olmo at left-back, and Sekou Gassama partnering Brandon at the front.

Malaga got the match off to a good start, as they had a big boost thanks to the 22,000 Malaga fans flooding to the stadium to cheer on the team in one of the most crucial games of the season.

The first-half ended goalless and it was a rather uneventful opening 45 minutes. Though Malaga mainly dominated in possession and in chances, the closest they came to scoring was a skewed shot by Vadillo ten minutes from the break, when he found himself one on-one-with the goalkeeper.

There was a feeling around the stadium that Oviedo knew what they were doing. They were calm on the ball and cunning in defence, waiting patiently for their hosts to make a mistake and attempt to mount swift counterattacks - even if they only tried that on a couple of occasions.

Second-half snoozefest

Oviedo came out stronger in the second-half and were more in-tune with how they usually play. They came close to Malaga’s goal a few times, but, like their hosts they struggled to find the final shot.

With half an hour left, Malaga started to turn the heat up, aided for the umpteenth time by the fans at La Rosaleda. But the Blue and Whites still lacked conviction to make it into the Oviedo box.

As the minutes wore on, both the team and the crowd became deflated, and it was becoming increasingly clear that Malaga were not going to be able to break the deadlock.

And so, the game eventually ended goalless. It wasn’t Malaga’s worst performance of the season, but it was far from their best.

The only positive to be taken away from the game is that it was against a very good side that just didn’t turn it up on the day, and the Blue and Whites can at least be proud of breaking the visitor's six-game winning streak.

Some postives

"It's the worst position to play in football," said goalkeeper Dani Martín, who managed to keep a clean sheet after a tricky spell under the goalpost. "I didn't have much to do today, only a couple of chances for them I think."

"We've been conceding quite a lot at the back in recent games and in attack we're scoring quite a few," Martín said. "We're in a situation that no one wants to be in, but we know what there is."

Martín also touched upon how the team is feeling at the moment, as the Blue and Whites are struggling to win crucial points and games that would have widened their safety net. "The group is incredible, they're very upbeat; we're all in it together. We're a very young team," he said.

Malaga will next play Tenerife in the Canary Islands on Sunday, 15 May at 9pm. The Andalusians are still out of the relegation zone, but Real Sociedad B’s win means that they are just two points behind Malaga, who will have to go above and beyond to survive the season.