Malaga eyes preventing Barça, Real clash in Cup
MADRID - Reuters
Malaga failed to settle with a two-goal lead and lost 3-2 against mighty Real Madrid in the first leg last week. AP photoMore than 100 million euros of Qatari cash and the arrival of a host of top players have given Malaga fans new belief and the team is hoping it can deliver in tonight’s King’s Cup last-16 second leg at home to holder Real Madrid.
Led by former Real coach Manuel Pellegrini, the Andalusian club is looking to overturn a 3-2 deficit from last week’s first leg at the Bernabeu and prevent a quarterfinal meeting between Real and 2011 runner-up Barcelona.
Barça, who lost 1-0 to its great rival in last year’s final thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s dramatic extra-time winner, take a healthy 4-0 advantage to Osasuna for their second leg on Jan. 12.
Malaga supporters, whose club was bought by a member of the Qatar royal family at the end of the 2009-10 season, have been out in force this week queuing for tickets for the match.
Defender Jesus Gamez said the two-goal lead the team opened up in the first half of the first leg had given the players confidence they can cause an upset.
“The cup is tough but you’ve got to believe,” Gamez said. “We saw the fans queuing and we know that the supporters are going to be behind us. If we managed that 0-2 lead at the Bernabeu, we can do it on Tuesday.”
Valencia, who is third behind leader Real and Barça in La Liga, is on the same side of the draw as the big two and carved out a 1-0 advantage over Sevilla in the first leg at the Mestalla last week.
The side still alive after tomorrow’s second leg will play Levante or second-division Alcorcon in the quarterfinals, with Alcorcon, who eliminated Real Zaragoza in the last round, leading 2-1 ahead of their game tomorrow.
On the other side of the draw, second-division Cordoba have a 2-1 advantage over top-flight side Espanyol for tomorrow’s game while third-tier Mirandes will look to protect a 2-0 lead when it plays at Racing Santander tonight.
Another Segunda B side, Albacete, held Athletic Bilbao to a 0-0 draw last week and travels to play the Basque side on Jan. 12.
Sociedad beat Mallorca 2-0 last week with the second leg tonight.