Malaga CF, one of the most active teams in the summer transfer window, will receive the reigning league champions on Sunday at La Rosaleda (18.00).
FC Barcelona's opponents this weekend are Malaga FC, who are currently in eighth place on 25 points. The club is bankrolled by Quatar sheikh Ahmed Al Thani and ambitions are high at the Costa del Sol side, as they look for a European spot next season.
The current Malaga Club were formed as a successor to CD Malaga in 1993, after the old club went bust. Since then, they have fought their way up through the lower flights and at the start of the century they enjoyed a few seasons as a top ten team under Joaquin Peiro and Juande Ramos before spending a couple of years in the second division. The big change for the club came in 2010 when Quatar billionaire Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani bought them and began a massive rebuiding programme with his cash. Coach Manuel Pellegrini was brought in, along with big money signings such as Julio Baptista, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Toulalan, Isco, Joaquin, Kameni and Santi Cazorla and after surviving a relegation scare last year, they have set their sights on European qualification this season.
Malaga have gone five league games without a win, losing to Sporting, Valencia and Real Sociedad, whilst being held at home by Atletico Madrid and Osasuna. The team were also knocked out of the Spanish Cup in the last round, going down 3-2 and 0-1 to Real Madrid. Last season's game between Guardiola's team and Malaga in Andalusia ended in a convincing 1-3 win for the Catalans.
Santi Cazorla was a key part of Spain's European Championship winning team in 2008 and although he missed out on World Cup in South Africa through injury he is now back on top form after signing for Malaga from Villarreal at the start of this season. Cazorla is the creative spark of Pellegrini's team, his ability to come in from either wing marks him out as a dangerous attacking force and he's the team's leading scorer in the league. (via FCBarcelona.cat)