Starkly contrasting economic fortunes provide a backdrop to Monday night’s La Liga clash, and could even have an on-field impact in helping Malaga to their second away win of the season.
Awash with Qatari money, Malaga’s ten summer signings were designed to busily turn the club into contenders for a top-three finish.
Barely as soon as the sunbeds were being packed away for the end of the holiday season on the Costa del Sol in October, so too did Malaga’s honeymoon period and they entered a mini-crisis of three successive La Liga losses.
They are out of that rut with a win and a draw since. Still, two goals from the last six league matches is not the kind of return that the club’s backers expected when splashing out on the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Spain playmaker Santi Cazorla.
Still, the Dutchman’s return to action on Monday night could buoy the club to another win at Racing Santander. At 27/20 they are reasonably priced, helped by the fact they have won just once on their travels this season.
Racing are making their usual spirited battle against relegation with little help from a tense off-field environment at the club.
While financial problems remain unresolved, last month’s announcement of match-fixing allegations against coach Hector Cuper is the kind of development that would ruin morale at many clubs.
It is to Racing’s immense credit that they are in fact unbeaten in three matches, but Cuper recently admitted that these problems were troubling some players over the international break.
Only one win from 11 this season makes a 2/1 bet on a Racing Santander home win a brave punt. As Racing have both scored and conceded just two goals from five matches at their El Sardinero stadium goals could well be in short supply, and 0-0 is a tempting scoreline to back at 25/4.
Odds of 11/5 for a draw look to provide reasonable value as well, considering the fact that Racing have tied more La Liga matches than they have won or drawn this season.
Malaga have won on their last two trips to Racing, though, and if Manuel Pellegrini has used the extended international break to restore some confidence to his stars, a narrow win should be on the cards.
A triumph by the solitary goal at 23/4 seems the most likely outcome and despite having the shortest odds in the final score market, this looks a thoroughly decent wager.
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