The game at La Rosaleda marks the start of a new La Liga campaign and hosts Malaga have been handed a very difficult draw for their opening fixture. Los Boquerones welcome Europa League holders Sevilla, with los Rojiblancos in great spirits after the promising performance in the UEFA Super Cup match against Barcelona.
Just like many other European clubs nowadays, Malaga have been the subject of a takeover by a wealthy businessman, but they were unfortunate to see Abdullah Al Thani quickly lose interest in his new toy, leaving the club in financial difficult. Considering the circumstances, los Boquerones have fought bravely to keep the results respectable and they did just that by achieving a top table finish in Spanish La Liga last term. The club did not exactly have money to spend on new players in the summer, but they still managed to recruit some decent footballers on free transfers and loan deals, while only paying a transfer fee for Adnane Tighadouini. Meanwhile, important players Juanmi, Sergio Sanchez, Samuel Garcia and Samu Castillejo all left, so even if los Boquerones kept hold of Sergi Darder and Recio, they do appear to lack the quality needed to match Spain’s top sides. Malaga coach Javi Gracia has reason for optimism ahead of the Sevilla clash given some good results in pre-season, but the match against reigning Europa League champions will be a whole different ball game. The hosts are still without Ignacio Camacho and Flavio Ferreira, but Marcos Angeleri returns from injury.
Sevilla, too, have found themselves in financial problems of late, but some amazing transfer dealings by sporting director Monchi not only helped the club turn a nice profit, but also saw the team enjoy plenty of success on the pitch over the last few years. Los Rojiblancos have now won two Europa League trophies in a row, with their four titles a new record, and they also qualified for the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2010. Sevilla ended up missing out on a top 4 finish in Spanish La Liga by a single point, but the EL final win over Dnipro ended up clinching the much-desired Champions League berth. Los Rojiblancos could do nothing to prevent star striker Carlos Bacca from leaving this summer, but they received a substantial fee for his services, while recruiting a host of high-quality players at bargain prices, with Yevhen Konoplyanka, Adil Rami, Gael Kakuta and Steven N’Zonzi just some of them. And even though this is still a team in the making, Sevilla were able to match mighty Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup game in Tbilisi, so I do expect them to see off weakened Malaga at the start of the new league campaign. The former Stoke star returns to the fold, but Grzegorz Krychowiak, Nicolas Pareja and Daniel Carrico continue to miss out.
Malaga appear to lack the quality to repeat last year’s result and they will not be too happy about facing star-studded Sevilla side in their opening match. Los Rojiblancos have yet to hit the ground running, but they should have what it takes to defeat los Boquerones at La Rosaleda.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 5/4
Bookmaker: William Hill