Despite facing the league leaders without star player Lionel Messi, boss Jose Gozalez witnessed Malaga crumble to a “tough” 2-0 lost and admitted his players owe the fans respect.
Through the absence of Messi, who withdrew after the birth of his third son, it came down to a Luis Suarez header and a superb back-heel finish by Phillipe Coutinho to take Malaga’s winless run to 13.
Malaga also saw Samu Garcia sent off 30 minutes in for a challenge on Jordi Alba and the result leaves them eleven points from safety with ten games remaining.
Although many fear Boquerones do not have the ability to overcome the widening gap, Gonzalez had sympathy for his players.
“It’s tough but we’re professionals,” he said to reporters after the game.
“We owe the fans, the shield and the history. We need to respect them. As a team we must compete, get up tomorrow and think about Vigo. 90 per cent of teams in LaLiga will lose against Barcelona, but our loss isn’t a product of today.”
Things go from bad to worse for Gonzalez as he now needs to prepare his men for clashes against top-half outfits Celta Vigo and Villarreal before playing Clarence Seedorf’s fellow strugglers Deportivo.
With safety looking like a stretch too far, Gonzalez said that the majority of the club’s woes has not surfaced due to a lack of spirit or desire.
“I understand everyone’s frustration. We can see the gap is large, but we must carry on to the best of our ability. I think we are where we are because of our inability, not because of a lack of drive and hard work. I want to stress again that week after week the team works very well in training”.