Monday night is the graveyard shift in the La Liga schedule- the games that nobody really wants to see, featuring the teams that no-one really cares about; except their own fans, of course. Barcelona hosted Real in this slot last December, but that was down to Catalan local elections taking place on the Sunday. That Málaga found themselves in this slot is probably a fair indication of their failure to capture the imagination this term. With their form underwhelming- three heavy defeats from their last five, during which they only picked up a solitary win- this project had failed to ignite. Their hosts, Racing Santander, meanwhile languished in 18th place.
Worse still, for Málaga, was the latest news surrounding Julio Baptista. The former Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Sevilla forward had almost kept the club up singlehandedly following his signing from Roma back in January. For a project that had seen such heavy investment in the summer, his presence remains key. When he plays, and when he plays well- as he had in Getafe- Málaga do well. Without him, they look probably what they are- an expensively assembled ensemble that has yet to fully gel. So, the news that he will be out now for some months and will undergo surgery naturally left coach Manuel Pellegrini with a lot to ponder....................
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