Third-placed Malaga have got a great chance to move further away from their top 4 rivals with a home win over Rayo Vallecano, a team that are going through a very rough patch at the moment. The club from Vallecas have lost 6 of their last 7 games, meaning they arrive at La Rosaleda completely out of confidence.
Malaga still going strong
Despite some impressive showings from last season that resulted in a fourth-place finish, Malaga were not expected to enter the top 4 race this term, mainly because of the poor financial situation and departure of players like Cazorla, Rondon, Mathijsen and Maresca. Los Boquerones, nonetheless, proved they can cope well without the aforementioned players even before Saviola, Iturra, Santa Cruz and Onyewu arrived to the club, having done so well on all fronts this season. While winning all three Champions League group games, Manuel Pellegrini’s side impressed in their league campaign as well, with the 5-3-1 record propelling them to the third place in the standings. After resting most of the starters in the Copa del Rey victory over Cacereno, the Chilean coach will restore his strongest starting line-up, with another comfortable win looking on the cards.
Jeremy Toulalan and Sergio Sanchez have resumed full training, with Nacho Monreal and Julio Baptista the only unavailable players at the moment.
Dreadful run for Rayo
Rayo Vallecano surprised everyone by surviving last season even if they did so thanks to the win in the final game of the season, but it looks as though they won’t be able to repeat the feat this term. The departure of star player Michu and the absence of proven goalscorer have proved to be the biggest issues this season, with Rayo slowly returning to where they belong despite the bright start to the league campaign. After taking no less than seven points from first three league games, los Franjirrojos suffered a huge dip in form, losing five of next six La Liga fixtures, while also being beaten by Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey tie. Given that the players are completely out of confidence at the moment and that several starters are unavailable for this game, Rayo cannot be expected to match in-form Malaga at their La Rosaleda.
Defender Jordi Amat misses out through suspension, while Sueliton Pereira and Manuel Arana are both injury doubts.
Malaga appear to be on top of their game at the moment and they will surely have no problems beating out-of-sorts Rayo Vallecano. The hosts can be trusted to record a comfortable win, meaning that we could easily see a high-scoring game at La Rosaleda.
Top pick: Malaga with -1 European handicap 2.20 (6/5) @ 888sport
Alternative pick 1: Home win 1.40 (2/5) @ SkyBet
Alternative pick 2: Over 2.5 goals 1.67 (2/3) @ BetVictor