Real Madrid face tough test in Malaga
Madrid: Real Madrid gears up for a fascinating trip to play Malaga in the Spanish La Liga football Saturday night in a game that will test the potential of both sides.
Malaga are suddenly one of the richest clubs in Spain after being bought by Sheikh Abdullah al Thani over a year ago and this summer saw the side rejuvenated by a series of big money signings, such as Spain international Santi Cazorla and former Madrid forward Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
The club is coached by former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini and this season aims to qualify for Europe.
A largely positive start to the campaign came to a stuttering halt last Sunday when they crashed to a 0-3 defeat away to Levante. That game saw goalkeeper Willy Caballero sent off for handball outside of his area and Willy is suspended for Saturday`s game with Ruben Martinez likely to replace him in the goal, reports Xinhua.
Real Madrid travel to Malaga after scoring four goals in their last four matches.
Jose Mourinho`s side has been highly effective in front of the goal, partly due to striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has scored three goals in his last two league appearances.
Higuain`s form has opened a debate over whether he or Karim Benzema should start for Madrid, but after Benzema began in midweek against Olympique Lyon, Higuain will start Saturday.
Real Madrid are without the injured Lassana Diarra for the trip, so Sami Khedira will partner Xabi Alonso in the central midfield.
Mourinho, who replaced Pellegrini at Real Madrid, can expect a hostile reception from the Malaga fans after remarks he made about the club last season, when he said that after leaving Madrid, he would never consider coaching a club such as Malaga as his opposite number has done.
Malaga supporters are still angry at Mourinho`s lack of respect for their side and that will serve to heighten the tension in La Rosaleda.
Malaga have a doubt over the fitness of the influential Julio Cesar Baptista, while Duda also has physical problems, but whoever plays Saturday will not be lacking motivation.