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Málaga v Aston Villa - Preview


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Opponent : Málaga CF

Venue : La Rosaleda

Date : Sat 25th July

Kick off : 21:30 (22:30 CET)

VillaTalk previews Villa's opening match of the Peace Cup against their host city's team, Málaga CF.

180px-M%C3%A1laga_CF.svg.png VERSUS 150px-Aston_Villa.svg.png

About our opponents

Málaga CF are a Primera Liga team who play their football in La Rosaleda. The stadium (pictured below) has a capacity of 37,000.

A brief history : The Málaga CF that we know today is from one half of a team (CD Málaga) that was formed in 1948 but that went into financial difficulty in 1993 (so legally, todays Málaga were officially formed in 1994 by renaming CA Malagueño who were originally CD Málaga reserves).

La_Rosaleda_Malaga_Spain.png

Honours : Málaga CF won the Intertoto Cup in 2002 and the Segunda Division (Spain's 2nd tier) in 1998/99. CD Málaga also won the Segunda Division in 1987/88.

Recent history : After promotion to La Liga in the 98/99 season, Málaga enjoyed 6 seasons of comfortable survival, peaking at 8th and enjoying a run to the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup along the way, until 05/06 when they finished rock bottom and cut adrift from the pack. After narrowly missing an immediate further demotion to the Spanish 3rd tier in 06/07 they came back up to La Liga in the 07/08 season and in the season just gone they finished a comfortable 8th, briefly flirting with Champions League qualification before eventually falling just outside the European places.

Like Aston Villa, Málaga have recently undergone changes in their hierarchy. While the club were going through tough times in 2006, former Réal Madrid chairman, Lorenzo Sanz, bought 97% of the club and installed his son and former Málaga CF captain, Fernando Sanz, as club president. Since then, the club has shot from 15th in the Segunda, to 2nd + promotion and now to 8th in the Primera Liga.

Players of note : Málaga's 2 danger men are Moroccan international striker Baha and attacking midfielder Apoño. Baha scored 9 goals last season (8 in the first half of the season) and was linked with a move to Steaua Bucharest which didn't materialise in the end. Apoño is a small, hard-working, creative centre mid who also has a knack for turning up in the box at opportune moments. Just like Baha, Apoño also scored 9 goals in La Liga last season. If you believe Wikipedia, he's quite the penalty-kick taker too.

The Villa squad will definitely be without Agbonlahor, Milner & Gardner for the Peace Cup as the U21 internationals are given a rest. New signing Stewart Downing is obviously injured for the next couple of months. You would expect some of the youngsters who have been impressing so far this pre-season to get a good run-out. The likes of Bannan, Albrighton & Weimann. Other than that, you would expect O'Neill to use as many players as he is allowed during the game. I doubt we're capable of tinkering much with our back 4 of Cuéllar, Knight, Davies, Shorey so that's where my team guessing begins and ends.

While Villa should be favourites to progress from Group C, it goes without saying that we should not underestimate this Málaga team nor should we underestimate home-field advantage. Last season Málaga had a good attack (55 goals, ranked 6th) and a bad defence (59 conceded, ranked 15th) so we should expect plenty of goals and an entertaining affair.

Martin O'Neill will no doubt be looking for a good work-out for the lads, no injuries and some good performances from whichever side he picks.

For those of you lucky enough to have it, Gol TV are covering the Peace Cup so you will be able to see the lads in action.

Remember you can follow all the results and statistics from The Peace Cup in VillaTalk's Peace Cup thread.

So it only remains for me to say let the games begin; and as always

UP THE VILLA !

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