El Centrocampista

Clemente looks for a Sporting chance in Andalucía

Despite losing in that vital relegation six pointer against Villarreal almost two weeks ago, a Gaston Sangoy brace last weekend secured a 2-1 win over Real Betis that ensured Sporting would go in to the final day of La Liga with the faintest of hopes for survival.

Sunday’s games have permutations for several teams of ‘la otra Liga’, seeing as the title has already been decided. Malaga, Sporting’s final-day opponents, could slip out of the top four if they lose and Atletico overcome Villarreal at el Madrigal while Levante and Mallorca are also in with a shout of continental football next season.

Three teams at the bottom of the table are also desperate to avoid filling the two  remaining spots that would send them into la Segunda next season, Sporting being one of them. Although Javier Clemente has guided his team to four wins in their last six games, los Rojiblancos have the bleakest looking chance of survival this weekend.

They take on big-spending Malaga at la Rosaleda and a team that will be looking to finish the season strong to ensure qualification for next season’s Champions League. The encounter will be the sixteenth time the two sides have met in La Primera and the ninth time Clemente has taken a team to the Andalucian club.

The 15 encounters between the two sides thus far have produced far more favourable results for Malaga. Los Boquerones have achieved nine victories, four draws and lost on only two occasions; the last of which was a staggering 32 years ago in 1980 when Sporting won 3-0 away from home.

Clemente has managed six different teams in nine different games against Malaga, the first being as Athletic Club boss  in 1983 and the most recent being two years ago when in charge of Valladolid.

The vastly experienced coach also has an extremely defensive record against Malaga. In the nine games they have faced a side led by the former national team manager, the Andalucians have only managed to score five goals. Against Clemete, Malaga have won three times (the only three games they managed to score), played out a 0-0 draw on five occasions and lost once.

It could be said, then, that Clemente prefers to ‘park the bus’; and he certainly has a reputation for it. However, since taking over Sporting he has preferred more of an attacking approach.

If this were a mid-season game, or a game in which Sporting weren’t on their last legs in La Liga, parking the bus might be a decent approach for Clemente to take, he could pacify a tough opponent and take a well-earned point from an away game.

However this is obviously not the case on Sunday. For Sporting to be even able to look to other results to help them, they first need to complete the task set out in front of them: win. If they do this, against a team they have already beaten this season, they can look to Getafe and Granada to do them a favour against Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano respectively. If they don’t, that’s it, Sporting will be relegated.

If they do go down, at least we can thank them for continuing the the fight to the last and making the final day such an interesting one.

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