El Centrocampista

La Liga focus returns to football as Malaga look to forget their summer of discontent

La Liga is back. This weekend the league season gets under-way as Spanish fans flock to stadiums around the country for the first round of the football season.

The headlines for Spanish football at the moment are dominated by the continued exportation of La Liga’s brightest Spanish talents. Cazorla has gone while Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente look set to follow. The lack of money available to clubs outside the top two is an ongoing issue in La Liga. Each summer it seems the players who impressed for lesser clubs the season before either move to one of the big two or abroad.

Malaga, backed by a billionaire Sheikh were the main investors last season outside the top two, but this year they are the sellers. Financial insecurity has meant top players have had to depart La Rosaleda, including Santi Cazorla and Solomon Rondon. The boardroom issues have caused turmoil at the club and a season full of hope is souring by the day.

This weekend the focus will be finally back on the pitch. For Malaga it is an away trip to newly promoted Celta Vigo. Prior to recent events this would have been seen as a win for los boquerones however the departures from the team make this a more tricky encounter.

The travelling squad is almost at full strength, missing is backup goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, as well as long-term absentee Julio Baptista; still recovering from an operation on his Achilles. Joaquin had been struggling after a freak accident with a barrier in training but has recovered enough to be included and has a chance of making the starting line-up.

Regardless of events at the club Malaga should be looking for a solid three points to kickstart their league campaign. The line-up is likely to be very similar to the team which defeated Everton 1-0 in their final pre-season friendly.

Uruguayan Seba Fernandez is likely to lead the line. The departure of Rondon and lack of investment on the striker front mean that he will have an almost guaranteed starting place this season. As yet he has been disappointing in Malaga colours, not firing in goals on a regular basis, this is his chance to be the main man at the club.

It is always tough travelling to a newly promoted side on opening day. Malaga will face an intense, hostile atmosphere and silencing the crowd with an early goal should be a priority. Celta have not played in La Liga for five seasons and have brought in four new faces over the summer, they certainly won’t be a walkover.

A win is not vital but it would be a kick-start for the season and provide momentum going into Wednesday’s crucial game against Panathinaikos. Malaga lost their first game last campaign but followed that up with three wins on the bounce. They just have to make sure they avoid defeat which would dampen spirits ahead of their Champions League debut.

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