Four years ago, in 2013 Malaga were just two minutes away from the Champions League semi-finals. Managed by Manchester City-bound Manuel Pellegrini, the team of superstars financed by billionaire Qatari investment had managed to gel together and were holding out the German champions Borussia Dortmund.
However, disaster struck and two late offside goals from Marco Reus and Felipe Santana put an end to the Andalucian sides greatest ever European campaign. Despite the initial feeling of being cheated, it was generally recognised that Malaga had over-achieved and done themselves proud.
Things are very different now. Manuel Pellegrini left to manage City straight after that campaign and a lot of the big stars such as Isco and Joaquin were sold, never to be replaced. Genuine financial backing from the Qatari owners appears to have ended a long time ago and the ‘Malaga Project’ looks to be dead.
They are currently sitting bottom of La Liga, with a miserly one point. Despite recent signs of improvement, they looked genuinely dreadful in their defeats to Valencia and Las Palmas in particular. Starting seasons badly has become a bit of a trend for them, and as we have seen in recent seasons with teams such as Granada and Getafe – this can only end in one way.
This weekend’s opponents are Leganés, where the mood couldn’t really be much different. With three consecutive clean sheets, Leganés are flying up in seventh, and enjoying their best ever start to a La Liga season. There will be a stark contrast in morale between the two sides when they meet this weekend but one thing is for certain – Malaga desperately need a win.
Malaga v Leganés is at 5:30 GMT on Sunday.