This is exactly what La Liga needs: a game that will build excitement and draw plenty of attention away from Barcelona and Real Madrid. Atletico Madrid host Malaga at the Vicente Calderon in what should be a great clash between two in-form and fantastic sides (8.30pm BST, Sunday).
Malaga continue to defy any kind of logic, picking up another hugely impressive win away to Anderlecht in the Champions League. The Spanish side ran out 3-0 winners and are top of their group having kept two clean sheets.
The win at home to Zenit in Europe was certainly no fluke. They outplayed and outclassed the big spending Russian side. With such commitment and drive channelling through to the pitch from Manuel Pellegrini in the dugout, did Anderlecht really have any chance?
The win in Belgium adds to another clean sheet in the past week for Malaga. They convincingly beat Real Betis at home 4-0 and showcased their ability to find goals from all over the pitch.
Javier Saviola continues to score for his new side, while Isco bagged himself another goal and gave further evidence of what an outstanding talent he is.
Eliseu, the Malaga left-back, scored two unstoppable goals in midweek against Anderlect, but those were certainly a surprise as he’s never displayed that side of his game in the past. It was a real shock but something that will please Pellegrini.
Malaga won’t be too upset at having lost their position to Atletico in the league table, they sit third and two points behind the Madrid side. But neither team have lost so far and that’s why this game is setting itself up to be extremely interesting.
Atletico Madrid had to find alternative routes to goal last week without the services of star striker Radamel Falcao. The Colombian striker missed the game with a thigh injury.
They travelled to Espanyol and got the three points they needed to continue their unbelievable run. The winning goal came from an unlikely source in Raul Garcia, but it’s just another plus that goals can be found in the absence of Falcao.
Atletico also hosted Viktoria Plzen in the Europa League on Thursday night and got a late, late winner from Cristian Rodriguez in stoppage time. Diego Simeone opted to field a weakened side in that game, clearly with one eye on the visit of Malaga.
Both teams are very good defensively and have kept clean sheets in their last two games. I believe this will be a game in which both teams will be looking to win, therefore I expect goals for both sides.
Isco will be the influential figure for the visitors as always, but the Atletico defence is very reliable with Juanfran and Filipe Luis in the full-back positions. Malaga will certainly have to play through a back line that is unlikely to offer any gifts to goal.
Atletico Madrid v Malaga Betting Tips
Atletico Madrid are the favourites for this game (best @ 5/6 with Pinnacle) and if Falcao is included he’ll once again be a great asset for them. Malaga can be backed biggest at 4/1 (Betfred, Blue Square, Coral).