Málaga v Real Oviedo
La Rosaleda / Segunda Division / 26th October 219
Deportivo a La Coruna v Málaga – this was the play-off semi-final in last season’s Segunda, as both clubs sought a route back to La Liga. Unfortunately, Málaga would lose over two legs and then Deportivo would lose the final to Mallorca. It’s tough to recover from a play-off loss, but I don’t think anyone predicted that these two would fall so far, so quickly, as by mid-October Deportivo sat bottom in 22nd and Malaga sat just above them in 21st and on the same amount of points. And as both clubs landed at the foot of the table, of course they had to play each other.
Málaga travelled to the one team that was worse than them in the league and went for it with a very attacking line-up – and they only bloody won! Malaga were undertaking their 2nd worst run of results in their history with their worst coming in the 50s, but that was halted with a 2-0 win at Riazor. The team’s first win since the opening game away at Racing. Oh, and did we celebrate as we watched on in the Tavern in Marbella. ‘Points mean pacharan’ in the Tavern and so the usual free pacharan shots were dished out, before in my ecstasy I went against protocol and bought everyone another shot (just the small group that had watched the Málaga game and not the larger crowd who had now gathered for Manchester United v Liverpool). A whole week of enjoying a Málaga win was truly bliss, but now we had another big relegation six-pointer as Real Oviedo arrived in to town.
Oviedo had been struggling themselves with them having a ridiculous tendency in their opening games to concede injury time equalisers and winners. However, irritatingly for teams down the bottom, such as Málaga, since a recent change of manager Oviedo have begun stringing some wins together. In different circumstances, I might be quite happy about this as, like many others, I really quite like Oviedo for a number of reasons.
Reason 1) Michu. Swansea fans love Michu. Michu loves Swansea. However, the only club Michu loves more than Swansea is Oviedo – his boyhood club and the club he once played for and now works as a director at. If Michu loves something, then that is good enough for me.
Reason 2) I listen to a lot of football podcasts including Football Weekly and The Spanish Football Podcast. Spanish football expert Sid Lowe remains one of my favourite football writers and speaks brilliantly on both. He is also an Oviedo fan and so that makes them good in my eyes.
Reason 3) I actually once owned a stake in Oviedo. True story. At their lowest ebb, when the club looked in real jeopardy as it sunk from La Liga to the third tier within two seasons, an appeal was made to football fans worldwide: put in £10 and own a stake in the club. It worked and Oviedo saved themselves.
Those above reasons meant nothing on this Saturday evening though. Ultimately, I would happily see Oviedo obliterated on the pitch if it meant a vital 3 points for the home team.
The game was not kicking off until 8pm, but a powercut in my building forced me into heading to Málaga early afternoon for the usual mix of pubs, craft beers and tapas. By the time I began the walk to the La Rosaleda neighbourhood at 5pm, I was suitably watered.
Bar Hermanos Madrid was frequented by the usual chatacters, although I was also joined by Welsh football’s Phil Stead, who was holidaying in southern Spain. I was a big fan of Phil’s Welsh football blog Ffwtbol and his book on the history of Welsh football Red Dragons. I’d not seen Phil, who was joined by his son Ifan, since I was at a Bangor v Rhyl in 2013. I was looking forward to showing him my Spanish football love, although he didn’t seem to pleased to be standing behind a large St George’s cross flag.
In the ground, there was the usual buoyant atmosphere and there was every reason to be buoyant too as Málaga had opted to field another similar attacking line-up to the team 6 days earlier.
Málaga had come flying out the box v Deportivo the week before and they immediatley took control of this game, although the first half was more of a slow burner. They had put out a similar team to the week before with the main change being the return of Dani Pacheco from injury; he would go on to have a good game as did all of his team mates.
There were a few half chances, but Malaga’s best chance came whem they almost scored direct from a corner – the Oviedo keeper just about punched it on to the post. Otherwise, Malaga were in control and went in 0-0 at half-time. It’d get better.
In recent weeks, I’ve championed the case of Anotnin starting up front instead of Sadiku. Just like the Depor game, both started today and to little surprise to me ut was Antonin was the one who opened the scoring. Well, that’s not exactly true – it was a surprise really. So conditionee am I to Malaga not scoring that when Antonin turned in the box and left the tracking Oviedo for dead, I just assumed he’d miss. But, the ball rolled into the far corner and I went nuts. Malaga winning. What would be even weirder to deal with would be if Malaga went 2-0 up…
Bang! 2-0 to Malaga from the penalty spot after earning what I thought was a very, very soft penalty. If anyone deserves luck though, it is Malaga and Adrian made sure he buried his penalty.
Weirdly, I felt completely relaxed now and for some reason I just accepted Malaga were going to win now which is a pretty callous thought process when it comes to Malaga. I was kicked out of this thought process with Oviedo grabbing a goal with 5 minutes to go. Back to being my usual nervy support of Malaga now.
To my surprise, even with manager Victor sent off and sent to the stands, Malaga saw out the end comfortably and as the final whistle blew, I fist pumped the air empathically. Malaga had won – I had seen Malaga win a game finally. More importantly, 2 wins in 6 days and ascent out of the relegation zone and up the league had begun. I generally felt positive for the team for the first time. Maybe it was Phil and Ifan being there as lucky charms; I’ve already invited them back but I don’t think they’ll be travelling from North Wales for every home game sadly.
The silly kick off time meant I didn’t get back to Marbella until midnight, but there was no way I was going home. There was only one place I was heading. Points mean pacharan and so off to the Tavern I went to celebrate with Ken, who couldn’t make the game this evening. I regaled him of our triumph as if Malaga had just won a Champions League final. It now feels to me like the only way is up.
Vamos flipping Malaga!