One thing is certain. This is not last year's Málaga. After losing Isco, Joaquín, Toulalan, Baptista, Saviola and Demichelis -all of them potential starters- this summer, the Andalusian team is trying to rebuild the squad by adding young players with potential. And it's not working entirely bad, as Schuster's team currently ranks 10th in the Liga BBVA.
Without those players mentioned above, Eliseu, Roque Santa Cruz and goalkeeper Willy Caballero are Málaga's best players. It will be hard for them to stop Real Madrid at the Bernabéu, but Barcelona could only get a sloppy win at La Rosaleda thanks to a goal scored by Adriano. Málaga know how to play defensively, and new coach Bernd Schuster is trying to create a solid team first.
The German coach is doing a good job, as Málaga have only conceded seven goals so far. It's not easy to accomplish that statistic with Angeliere, Sergio Sánchez, Antunes and Jesús Gámez as the team's defensive line, but Willy Caballero certainly helps a lot.
Schuster is trying to implement a solid system with a lot of midfielders. While last year Pellegrini used to play with Isco, Joaquín and Eliseu upfront, Schuster is giving Duda a lot of chances. The Portuguese player is well-known for his defensive efforts and his skill off set pieces, but he has never been a great offensive player. Neither have been Portillo nor Morales. This is a true defensive midfield by Bernd Schuster's squad when adding the likes of Tissone and Darder. Both of them are very good physically speaking but they lack some creativity.
But one way or another, Málaga have managed to win some games. They've scored 11 goals so far. El Hamdaoui was on a pretty long scoring draught before joining Málaga but he has scored three goals in six appearances. Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz has scored two goals after getting a new contract with the Andalusian team. Santa Cruz is not the striker he once was anymore, but he's still a decent player for this team, and it would be a surprise not to see him fighting for the starting spot.
Málaga's plan is working well. But if will be much harder for them to play against defensive teams, because Málaga will surely end up missing Isco and Joaquín's unpredictability. It will be hard for Schuster and the rest of the team to earn a place in next season's UEFA Europe League, but they will likely finish the Liga BBVA in the first half of the table.