Málaga v Cádiz
La Rosaleda / Segunda División / 12th October 2019
Another week and another Málaga drama. This week’s problem? Not having enough players. I see nothing but bad news at this club.
Despite the travails of Málaga CF, they actually find themselves with international footballers on their books: there is Munir for Morocco, Villanueva and Juanpi with Venezuela, Keidi Bare with Albania and new signing Lorenzo for the Swiss U21s. Unlike the top league, the Segunda does not halt for international weeks and thus club’s must battle on without some of their best players. The monumental mismanagement of the club means Malaga have the most threadbare squads you could possibly have and so losing a few international players has an impact – especially when the likes of Munir, Bare and Juanpi are such key players.
Then, you factor in injuries and suspensions and you soon have the most threadbare of squads becoming even more ‘threadbarer’. This was the situation placed in front of Málaga. League rules stipulate that clubs are only allowed to play a certain amount of youth players in league games too and so Málaga found themselves in quite the pickle. According to the club, they couldn’t meet the league requirements; when new signing Lorenzo earned a late call up to the Swiss U21 team, Málaga launched their appeal – Málaga appealed for the Saturday game to be cancelled.
Like much at Málaga recently, the appeal failed.
If this wasn’t bad enough, the problem was further accentuated by the fact that Málaga would be playing fellow Andalusians Cádiz – the table toppers after 10 games. Cadiz have a reputation for being tough opponents and what we’ll call ‘streetwise’ on the pitch. This was going to be tough. And it was tough.
With the weeks events portending to an absolute obliteration by Cádiz, I decided that post match I would stay in Málaga for the night and spend my time in the city drowning my sorrows amongst the Malaguistas…well that was the reason I told myself I was staying for; I knew I felt something different really. I knew deep down that I was really dreaming of an unlikely, triumphant win – against all the odds, Málaga would come good and finally have a day of glory this season and where better to lap it than in Malaga itself. Of course, this is why I’m a rubbish football fan, as I naively dream of glory, when we all know that football is cruel and sadistic. You know it’s killing me being here.
After my usual tapas stop in Pepa y Pepe’s tapas bar, I began the walk down the arid, graffiti-covered riverbank towards La Rosaleda. On my walk, I encountered the Cádiz team bus just down the road from the stadium and I’d learn in the coming hours that Cádiz are experts when it comes to parking buses.
My first port of call was the ‘Chinese Bar’ (as Ken calls it) to meet up with the Marbella Guiris and to indulge in the €1 beers, before I headed up the road to Bar Bodega Hermanos Madrid – the usual Guiri meet-up spot. It was on the walk between the two bars that it began to dawn on me just quite how many fans Cádiz had brought (by Spanish standards) as several of the bars and cafeterias were taken over by the yellow and blue of Cádiz. Apparently police had tried to escort a load of them to stadium, but it seemed they had failed. This may have been an Andalucian ‘derby’, but there was still about 250km between Málaga and Cádiz. Cádiz fans have a reputation in Spain for being some of the most passionate and party-loving fans around and they were certainly enjoying themselves at the moment with the club soaring at the top. Their passion was there to see today, although judging from comments on Twitter, Málaga folk do not take well to them and see them as rather undignified bunch and almost feral. A lot of Málaga fans pointed out how freely they had let Cádiz fans mingle around the streets of La Rosaleda, as apparently Málaga fans had not been given the same sort of freedom on their visit to Cádiz last season.
The usual Victorias were enjoyed at the bodega and there were a few more “You’re that guy who writes the blog” comments (hey everyone), as if I’m some sort of z-list celebrities amongst the Guiri. Time was soon up though and it was time to go endure another Malaga game.
I arrived with 5 minutes to spare and just in time for the Málaga anthem to be belted out as loud and proud as always. Again, the home fans insisted on staying with the players 100% and doing what supporters are supposed to do: support. There were no moans about the makeshift team, a team of backup players with a smattering of a few regulars. Us fans knew the situation the ever eloquent manager Víctor Sánchez del Amo (what a guy by the way) and had to do as much with the situation as we possibly could.
Arguably, this was possibly Málaga’s best showing of the season and you’d have been pushed hard to work out which team was the team in freefall and which was the team on top of the table. Málaga even completed the most passes of any other team in the league this weekend. As a Swansea fan, who would herald these sort of pass-centric stats during our prime ‘Swanselona’ era in 2007-14, that was the real victory for me – as it was the only victory for Málaga I’d get this week.
Despite my previous statement of it being difficult to decipher which was the team on top of the league, it was also incredibly easy to work out which team were on top: the clever team. Cádiz were ‘streetwise’ (time-wasting, sneaky fouls etc.) as I had heard and looked comfortable with their game plan. Málaga were brave, but still looking a little bit blinded by the headlights (take some shots please Málaga).
Cádiz would score against the run of play, as they broke quickly down the right, before the ball was crossed low and eventually bundled over the line. The Cádiz cheers were followed by Málaga cheers, as it initially looked like the goal had been ruled out for offside by VAR, but after a very lengthy wait, the ref pointed to the centre spot, confirming that Cádiz had indeed taken the lead. Málaga fans then jeered for the first time all game, not because of the goal, but thanks to the chorus of the Cádiz fans. They had began chanting ‘Al Thani stay!’ This did not go down well with the Malaguistas, who, as I’ve pointed out on these pages before, really do not want Al Thani to stay to say the very least.
Málaga carried on in much the same way into the second half and they certainly played out the best half of football they’ve probably delivered all season. Antoñín had come on for Sadiku (I still have no idea what he actually does) and almost scored when he delightfully brought the ball down in the box, but then did what Málaga strikers do this season: blasted wide.
And of course, Cádiz went and made it 2-0 then. Another burst from nowhere saw them run right through the middle of Málaga, before Quintana dinked the ball just past second choice keeper Kellyan and slid in from an acute angle. Bugger.
Although despite the bugger, I still felt there was something in for Málaga and with a 10-year-old screaming encouragements to the team directly behind me, he seemed to have me convinced too. Even more so, when Antoñín rose in the box and guided his header into the far corner. 2-1! 5 minutes left! VAMOS MALAGA!
It was now all Málaga and I thought we’d done it. I thought we had salvaged the most unlikely of points. Keko let rip from 25 yards and the ball curled and dipped through the air. I could feel my frantic fist pump celebration coming on already. 2-2…but no. CRACK! The bar shook and the ball bounced out. Bugger.
Despite a couple of other chances, Cádiz had won it. Málaga could take heart from the game, but now Málaga really need to be taking points too. By the end of the weekend, Málaga sat in 21st place in the league and joint bottom with Deportivo de La Coruña – the team who beat Málaga in last season’s Segunda play-off semi-final. That escape route out of La Segunda seems a long way away for both clubs next.
Oh, and never guess who Málaga play next in the league? Of course ‘Super Depor’ in what already looks like a massive game in A Coruña in the very north.
After one more beer in Bodega Hermanos Madrid, I slowly worked my way back to the city, laughing to myself when I put my earphones in and discovered the first song to soundtrack my post match walk was SPINN’s It’s Not Getting Better. The Gods of Shuffling Music being rather cruel to me there. Málaga weren’t getting better – points-wise at least – but at least I could make the rest of my evening better.
As always, I headed to Central Beers for my craft beer fix and it was here that I think I bored a British couple to death explaining the tragedy of Málaga CF at the moment. Such a tale, led me to suggest they join me in Málaga’s most bonkers pub – or certainly the pub run by two of the most bonkers men I’ve ever encountered running a pub (think two old, usually drunk, fellas with a strong love for physical comedy involving lots of wigs, setting off confetti, pyro and anything that generally flashes or goes bang). Be Happy Pub failed to gee me up thanks to aforementioned owners being overworked and not quite delivering their crackpot service of beer and physical comedy at the same frantic pace as on my last visit. Comical, crazy owners seems to be a running theme in Málaga, but at least these guys had the decency to employ enough staff and not leave their team in the shit.
It’s not getting better…but, there’s always the next game.