Malaga 1 vs 0 Barcelona
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Messi hammers the resulting free-kick into the wall, with Malaga countering brilliantly. They escape down the left and then switch the play out to Charles on the right-hand side. The Brazilian substitutes loses his balance slightly and lines up a shot from a tight angle, which ends up comfortably within Ter Stegen’s grasp.
The hosts continue to defend quite deep, with essentially a back five. Penaranda is very deep, with Malaga taking an all hands to the pump mentality. Sergi Roberto cuts in from the right and goes down on the very edge of the box, but the referee awards a free-kick! Barcelona’s players argue that it was a penalty.
SubstitutionAndré Filipe Tavares GomesFrancisco Alcácer García
Paco Alcacer is introduced for the away side, with Andre Gomes taking his leave. Luis Enrique is throwing the kitchen sink at Malaga during the last half an hour.
Neymar just hasn’t been given the time and space to cause any problems, with the Brazilian forced into areas where Camacho and Fornals can put in timely challenges. Malaga are continually robbing Barcelona of possession in the midfield third and looking to get forward with urgency. Neymar breaks to the left byline with a neat bit of skill, before hammering a shot from a narrow angle into the outside of the near post!
The hosts put together a brilliant break, with Iniesta robbed of possession in midfield. Sandro is picked out on the left, but the Spanish striker angles a square ball out to the opposite flank to Juanpi instead of shooting. Again, the Venezuelan forward rushed his attempt and fires it straight at Ter Stegen, who catches. What a huge opportunity!
Messi takes aim from the periphery of the area, but the Barcelona star can only drag a shot wide of the near post. Kameni has at least been a little worried in the last few minutes, but the visitors need to hit the target and ask some questions of Malaga’s goalkeeper. Things have been incredibly easy for Michel’s men in comparison to their expectations.
Messi is fouled on the edge of the penalty area by Camacho, with the Malaga captain somehow escaping a yellow card once again. The Argentina international takes aim from 25 yards out, but bends the ball hopelessly over the crossbar. Kameni isn’t being given much work to do at all.
HALF-TIME! Malaga head into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead over Barcelona, given to them by ex-Blaugrana striker Sandro. The visitors just haven’t created enough to trouble Kameni, with Luis Enrique sure to be thinking of alternatives for the second half. Messi and company have had plenty of the ball, but it has counted for nothing, with the favourites set to drop three important points in the title race if this continues.
Yellow Card José Luis García del Pozo
Recio gets a yellow card for cynically tugging on the shirt of Messi, as the Argentine forward looked to change gear and cause problems.
Jordi Alba is found on the overlap on the left for Barcelona, with Juankar able to divert his eventual back-post cross behind for a corner. The resulting set piece is whipped in towards the near post, but Mascherano is penalised for handball. Luis Enrique’s men just can’t seem to build up a head of steam. Juanpi breaks down the left for the hosts, but blasts high and wide of the target.
Messi lifts a great ball over the top for Neymar to chase, but Diego Llorente is able to nod a defensive header behind for a corner. The resulting set piece picks out Mathieu, who tried his luck with an acrobatic volley, with Andre Gomes then only able to follow up with a deflected effort that Kameni claims with ease.
Suddenly, Malaga are full of confidence, with their home fans making even more noise. They’ve been solid defensively and capitalised on the one mistake that Barcelona have made here tonight. Michel can’t ask for any more from his players, and they’ve got just 10 minutes to keep the visitors out before the half-time interval.
Ter Stegen is nearly surprised by a long-range attempt, with the German creeping a little out of position, but the ball sails harmlessly high and wide of the target. A little wake-up call for the ex-Gladbach goalkeeper, perhaps. Andre Gomes continues to try and alter the tempo of the game with some darting runs upfield, but the Portuguese midfielder keeps being fouled.
Ricca brings down Messi on the edge of the penalty area, mistiming a sliding tackle quite badly in the process. The Argentina international lines it up himself, but can only curl a good effort narrowly high and wide of the top right-hand corner. Barcelona are getting a little closer, at least.
The visitors keep attempting to work a man over on either flank, but chances and shots have been kept to a minimum by narrow and congested shape from Malaga. Clearly, the underdogs have a gameplan and want to protect Kameni as best they can. They are creating absolutely nothing, however, with the likes of Fornals and Juanpi barely getting on the ball.
Barcelona keep dominating the ball, with Malaga barely getting a touch. The home fans are getting a little bit restless. Whenever Michel’s men attempt to get forward on the break, they tend to give it away within a few passes – it hasn’t been the most scintilating of starts from an Andalucian perspective.
Great save from Kameni! Suarez is picked out in behind the Malaga back four by a wonderful ball over the top from Jordi Alba. He brings it down on his chest in the box, but the hosts’ goalkeeper stands up tall to make a brilliant stop as the Barcelona striker tries to finish on the turn. We could be in for some more heroics from the Cameroonian shot-stopper tonight.