Saturday night’s match is a case of the haves and the have mores, with nouveau riche Malaga facing the pomp and history of Real Madrid, the world’s richest club.
The term project in footballing terms has come to mean an unfashionable side which has had millions of pounds suddenly lavished upon it by a wealthy benefactor.
We have seen that given time the Chelsea and Manchester City projects in England have flourished, with the latter enjoying their first ever season in the Champions League.
The question in Spain is whether Malaga can follow suit and the game at La Rosaleda will give Manuel Pellegrini a real idea of how far away his side is from mixing it with the big boys.
Certainly in terms of odds they are very much the underdogs with a home win priced at 23/4, the draw available at 18/5 and Madrid priced at 21/50.
The thing with projects is that they often take time to gel, and Malaga’s start to the season can at best be described as topsy-turvy; the glorious fluency shown in their 4-0 demolition of Granada sadly lacking in their 3-0 defeat at Levante last weekend.
Having spent heavily on attacking options, Malaga’s defence is their Achilles’ heel, with the lack of pace of centre back Martin Demichelis a particular concern.
Their impressive goalkeeper Willy Caballero is suspended for the visit of Madrid and with Malaga having conceded five times in their last two games, goals are almost certainly on the agenda.
The defensive deficiencies of the Andalusians coupled with Madrid’s majestic attacking prowess makes the 18/5 offered on more than 2.5 goals to be scored in the first half highly tempting.
Last season Los Blancos struggled at some of the less fashionable grounds in La Liga.
Their failure to score away to Deportivo, Osasuna, Mallorca and Levante cost them dearly in the title race, and this season they have already drawn blanks at Racing and once again against Levante.
Yet do not let that deter you from backing the team from the capital. In the five matches since those blanks, Mourinho’s men have scored 21 goals and in Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain have the two of the most in form strikers in Europe.
The Argentine they call Pipita has netted a staggering 12 times for club and country so far this season including three hat-tricks, while Benzema has seven goals. The Frenchman loves playing against Andalusian sides with a fifth of all his goals last season coming against sides from the south of Spain so take the 4/1 offered for Benzema to score two or more on Saturday night in a comfortable Madrid win.
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