Celta vs Malaga: Bottom side head to fortress BalaidosMarch 17, 2018
Celta Vigo are the clear favourites as they welcome bottom side Malaga to Balaidos on Sunday evening (5.30pm GMT).
The hosts have lost just one of their last eight league games at home, with Juan Carlos Unzue’s men starting to turn Balaidos into something of a fortress late into the season, scoring at least two goals in their last five home matches.
Malaga, by contrast, have lost their last seven games in a row and haven’t won at all since their mid-December visit to Real Sociedad.
The side from the Costa del Sol are likely to welcome skipper Jose Recio back from injury into the heart of their midfield in place of Mehdi Lacen who is carrying a knock, but will have to assess their options on the right after Samuel Garcia’s red card in his side’s 2-0 defeat Barcelona earned him a one-game ban last time out. Maxime Lestienne could come in, but equally Isaac Success or Diego Rolan could be considered options.
For Celta, Daniel Wass is the only real absentee (slipped disc) and Iago Aspas, who has scored 16 goals so far this campaign, looks set to continue on the right.
Celta boss Unzue, however, believes the Dane’s absence won’t be felt too much: “I have enough players to replace Wass. He has been an important player for us. He, Iago and Hugo [Mallo] have a great understanding between them but I am happy that we can find a solution.”
The fact that Celta have kept just one clean sheet in their last six attempts at home should provide some hope for a Malaga side that have already beaten their opponents this year (2-1 at La Rosaleda in October), but coach Jose Gonzalez was cautious in his pre-match press conference: “Celta are a very difficult team to face. We want to win and fight to the end but with Levante winning, a 14-point gap with what’s left of the season is very difficult. We want to give the fans something to be happy about, however small.”