One of the reasons that I love the Costa del Sol is that it has everything I personally need. Sand, sea, sun …..and soccer! As a lifelong football fan, having La Liga football on my doorstep is just another reason for living here.
Málaga CF play in the top flight of Spanish football which is variously described as La Liga, La Primera, La Liga BBVA …..and the best league in the world! This means that locals and visitors can see the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia in La Rosaleda the club’s excellent stadium in the outskirts of the city. They have an excellent website although sadly only part of it is in English!
The 2010/2011 season started full of hope. The club had changed ownership for the second time in four years and this time the club had acquired wealthy backers – so wealthy that they immediately removed William Hill gaming as sponsors because of their religious beliefs. In 2006 Lorenzo Sanz, a former Real Madrid president, had purchased a 97% holding in the club and then appointed his son Fernando Sanz, the former captain of the team, as club president. The club was again sold in June 2010, as Qatarian investor, Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani, bought the club from Sanz.
The club had a new Portuguese manager the highly-rated Ferreira who came with a fine reputation, a huge budget and all looked set for a happier season that 2009/2010 but…….
After 12 games, the club had lost 7 and had taken just 1 point from a possible 18. Málaga CF were bottom of La Liga and looking at a long winter of heavy defeats with relegation as the likely result. Five consecutive home defeats was too much for the new owners
Manuel Pellegrini (photo, above) was brought in and everybody involved with the club recognised that the owners were extremely serious about their newly acquired club. Firstly, the pay-off to Ferreira may have been as much as 12 million euros and secondly bringing in somebody of the status and reputation of Pellegrini emphasised their desire to progress.
The effect was immediate. In his first two games in charge the club beat Hércules in the Copa del Rey and got their first points at home with a 1-0 victory over Levante.
The stage was set …… and then it all went wrong! Until April the club was in or near the relegation zone. A run of good results in April moved them out of the bottom three and as if by miracle the club finished in 11th place. Yes, after having spent almost the entire season in the drop zone, they almost made the top half of the table and were indeed not far off a Europa league spot!
With survival assured the club then went on a mega-spending spree and brought in a whole raft of new signings including the legendary Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Joaquín (a legend in his own opinion) For an update on all things Málaga this blog is always worth reading. La Liga Loca also usually has plenty to say on anything football and here are some more tongue-in-cheek thoughts.
The video shows all the goals scored in competitive matches.
The Brits brought football to Spain and this involvement continues to this day with a very large and active Peña Internacional Malaguista, the International Supporters Club. They have an excellent web-site complete with forum, arrange travel to home and away matches and generally support the club at every level. I know you will be made most welcome on the forum, at the ground or in either of their two “locals” in Marbella Old Town and Arroyo de la Miel. There is also a huge Spanish Supporters’ Club who are famous throughout Spain and internationally for their passion. This is them in action recently:
The club also has a museum and tour but the opening hours are not consistent so I suggest you visit theor call 952 10 30 00
Incidentally, the club has also its own reserve team, Atlético Malagueño who play in the fourth level of the Spanish football pyramid.
On the 3rd of April, 1904, the Málaga Football Club was formed.
109 years later to the day, the latest incarnation of football in the city, Málaga Club de Fútbol took to the Rosaleda pitch in the biggest match of the clubs history, The UEFA Champions League qualifying round match.
The club’s name has changed over those 109 years as have the owners, but never had such success been witnessed in the city and many still believed it was all a dream.
A percentage of those in the stands for most Málaga home games (an estimated 20%) are ex-pat British residents living on the coast who have taken the side to their hearts and are referred to as the Guiri (foreign) Army. Most belong to supporters clubs in the area and travel to matches at the Rosaleda on buses provided for by the supporters clubs, or “Peñas”.
The epic journey began on a warm August evening with a final qualifying round tie against Panathinaikos of Greece to decide who would play in the competition proper. Panathinaikos are an historic name in European football and few gave the Costa del Sol side a chance of progressing to the lucrative group stage.
1st half goals from Demichelis and Eliseu gave the Málaga faithful a 2-0 win to cheer and much hope for what was expected to be a difficult return leg in Athens.
Any fears of a Greek tragedy were averted with a hard fought 0-0 draw and Málaga were through to the group stages.
After a summer of big name departures in an attempt to bring in funds, including star attraction Santi Cazorla to Arsenal for less than the club had paid Villareal for the player, the prospect of Champions League football at the Rosaleda had brightened the mood of the Málaga support.
The fire sale was sparked when owner Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani stated he would be reducing his investment in the club. Reasons cited in the media for Al Thani’s change of mind were that he was upset at opposition to his proposed redevelopment of the port in Marbella. More significantly for the club, he was angry with the distribution of money for TV rights in Spain and had become disillusioned with his football project.
Most of Málaga’s new arrivals had been loan signings, or free transfers. Considering the lack of investment, the club’s feats in the Champions League group stages were nothing short of incredible. Home victories against the mighty AC Milan, the super rich Zenit St. Petersburg and Anderlecht gave them the impetus to finish as group winners, 4 points ahead of 7 time competition winners Milan.
In the last 16, Málaga were drawn against another historic European name, FC Porto. Again, few gave the side (who had been given a minimum one year European competition ban for their financial irregularities) any hope of progressing. After a 1-0 defeat in Portugal, the odds were heavily stacked against them.
Another epic evening under the floodlights of the Rosaleda produced a red hot atmosphere in the stands and the side responded on the pitch. A 1st half strike from wonder kid Isco and a headed goal in the 77th minute from Roque Santa Cruz (on loan from Manchester City) almost brought down the stadium with the delirious celebrations. The aggregate scoreline was 2-1 and the Boquerones (anchovies, a club nickname) had defeated the mighty dragons of Porto.
Málaga were into the quarter finals and would eventually be drawn to face the German champions of the previous two seasons, Borussia Dortmund.
The Costa del Sol favourites produced two epic performances and looked to be heading through until two very late goals from Dortmund in the second leg in Germany took the wind out of their sails and the men in blue and white stripes were finally defeated.
Their European exploits had highlighted a number of their top players to the elite of European football, the brightest of which was the TuttoSport “European Golden Boy” award winner (The under 21 equivalent of the UEFA Player of the Year) Isco.
The continental adventure had been the stuff of legend and one that would be recalled over many a cold beer in the tapas bars of the ever popular Spanish tourist destination.
Thanks for the update from La Liga Blog