Real Madrid are fresh off a 2-0 win in Italy in the UEFA Champions League that will surely give them some confidence going into this one. This season, however, Madrid have struggled to get the job done away from home. This has proved costly despite Los Blancos faring well at home. Though history is on Madrid's side against Malaga, they will not make it easy. Their opponents can adopt a compact 4-4-2 similar to Atletico Madrid. We have seen that if rivals play with intensity early on and are organized defensively, it does cause problems for Madrid. It's games like this where flair players like Isco, James, and company are critical to open up space.
Carlos Kameni is a great and underrated keeper however, and looked inspired in his last outing against the Royal Whites. The mid-field trio that Zidane chooses to go for could be very decisive. According to Rob Train at ESPN FC, Zizou may opt for Mateo Kovacic in the midfield with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to provide additional defensive coverage, as he understands the threat Malaga may pose on the counter. The young Crotian has shown his ability to bomb forward too when the opportunity arises. If the manager selects Isco though, it could promote more open attacking play overall, while Isco does hustle to defend (albeit not his strength).
Malaga is coming off a 1-0 loss to Villarreal last Saturday, so they will be going into this game itching to get some points. Manager Javi Garcia spoke before the game: "Against Real Madrid you can’t exclusively defend as you will possibly lose the match. We need to find the right balance in order to be aggressive on the attack. It’s also important that the goalkeepers of teams who come up against Real Madrid are successful as it’ll be demanding." The 11-placed team made life difficult in their recent game versus Barcelona. Javi Garcia also added: "It’s essential to affront home games with this push from the fans, as their support helps us to create options against this type of rival."
Zizou also spoke on the game: "It will be a tough a game against a tough game agaisnt a difficult a very good rival. They're a good team, we know that, and it will be just as difficult as Roma. He also added, "I am still thinking the same thing, we are seven points behind and it will be difficult, but we are giving it everything and we are all happy."
Real Madrid is struggling with suspension and injury woes that will test the depth of the team. Marcelo and James just returned with reported shoulder problems, Gareth Bale is still out, Pepe is out with a foot problem, and Varane is out due to the red card he receivedagainst Athletic Bilbao. It will be interesting to see which players Zizou chooses to field as he may need to adjust tactically.
Malaga possible lineup (4-4-2 formation): Kameni, Rosales, Albentosa, Weligton, Torres, Juanpi, Camacho, Tissone, Fornals; Cop, Charles
Real Madrid possible lineup (4-3-3 formation): Navas, Marcelo, Nacho, Ramos, Carvajal; Modric, Kroos, Isco,James, Benzema, Ronaldo
Head to head:
- Real Madrid- 44 wins
- Malaga- 10 wins
- Malaga- 11th place (8-10-6, 30 points)
- Real Madrid- 3rd place (16-3-5, 53 points)
Managing Madrid staff predictions:
- Kevin: 1-2 Real Madrid
- Om: 1-2 Real Madrid
- Nate: 1-2 Real Madrid
- Mike: 0-1 Real Madrid
- Lucas: 1-3 Real Madrid