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Barcelona vs Málaga LaLiga 2017-18, week 9: match report, goals, action

A goal by Deulofeu that should have been ruled out and another by Iniesta in the second half was enough to see Barcelona past Malága on Saturday night
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BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 21:  Gerard Deulofeu (R) of Barcelona celebrates with Lionel Messi of Barcelona after scoring the first goal during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Malaga at Camp Nou on October 21, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by f
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Barcelona 2-0 Málaga: match report

It was far from pretty but it was thoroughly effective as Barcelona remain unbeaten in LaLiga and push their lead to four ahead of Valencia with a 2-0 win over Málaga at the Camp Nou.

Malága manager assured reporters he was not distraught following Málaga's dreadful start to the season. He surely has to be looking over his shoulder now with just one point after nine games in LaLiga this season as they prop up the rest of the table in last place.

To their credit, the first goal had little to do with them as Lucas Digne, quite clearly, ran the ball over the endline only to cross it when he heard no whistle. Gerard Deulofeu headed home and Barcelona were ahead after two minutes. The hill they needed to climb had turned into a mountain and Malága showed little ability to get back into the game.

Barcelona were just as poor though as they never really got out of second gear. Lionel Messi teed up Andres Iniesta in the second half as the Spanish midfielder drove a shot towards goal. It took a wicked deflection and beat Andres Prieto, who was making his first start for the club.

Little else of note happened for the remainder of the game but Luis Suárez' form is sure to come under the spotlight. He missed a gaping goal before he was substituted for Paco Alcacer and looked to be off the pace, which is becoming a recurring theme for the Uruguayuan. 

Regardless, Ernesto Valverde continues his unbeaten start to life at Barcelona as Malága fans wonder when they will be getting their own new coach as a parting with Michél is surely only a matter of time given their poor start.

Barcelona vs Málaga live stream online: live

Barcelona vs Málaga live online: match preview

Liga leaders Barcelona welcome Málaga to Camp Nou on Saturday evening when Ernesto Valverde’s side will aim to extend their excellent start to the season at the expense of Míchel’s struggling side, who sit rock bottom of the division with just one point from eight games. Barcelona, meanwhile, are unbeaten in all competitions since the start of the season proper and hold a four-point advantage over second-placed Valencia in the league.

Barcelona latest news

The hosts have been in scintillating form so far this season, only dropping points once against Atlético last weekend. Valverde’s side have banged in 24 goals in eight games and conceded only three times despite contending with injuries to key players in the early stages of the campaign.

Barça will be without long-term absentees Ousmane Dembélé and Rafinha in Camp Nou and Valverde may be forced into a defensive reshuffle if Jordi Alba fails to recover from a knock that ruled him out of the midweek Champions League victory over Olympiacos. Lucas Digne filled in for the Spain international on Wednesday and is likely to retain his place if Alba is unavailable, while Javier Mascherano may find himself on the bench again with Gerard Piqué, who was sent off against the Greek side, and Samuel Umtiti the current first-choice central defensive partnership.

Leo Messi will provide the chief threat to Málaga’s back four after plundering 14 goals so far in LaLiga and Europe. The visitors are not among the sides who have traditionally suffered the most at the feet of the Argentinean during his career but still are no strangers to plucking the ball out of the net as the number 10 wheels away, Messi having scored 13 times against them in 18 games.

Nelson Semedo will return in the right back slot after warming the bench in Europe with Ivan Rakitic, a substitute in midweek, expected to line up with Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets in midfield.

Málaga latest news

Despite Málaga’s woeful start to the season – seven defeats and a draw with just four goals scored – Míchel is grimly clinging to his post at the south coast club. However, the suspicion remains that the former Real Madrid midfielder is only one thrashing away from a P45 and there is little to suggest on current form that Barcelona won’t administer one in Camp Nou.

Málaga have the joint-worst defensive record in the division and face a side who have scored 16 goals in four games at Camp Nou this season. In an attempt to turn things round, and faced with a mounting injury list and the suspension of midfield linchpin Recio, Míchel has brought six new faces into the squad for the trip to Catalonia. Borja Bastón is back in contention for a start after injury while Chory Castro, Miguel Cifuentes, Cengo and youth team players Álex Robles and Kellyan García are the other changes to the squad that lost 2-0 to Leganés in La Rosaleda last weekend.

Míchel will be hoping for a repeat of last season’s success against Barcelona, when the Málaga boss oversaw a surprise 2-0 victory over the blaugrana. At that time, Míchel had been in charge for only five games and claiming victory over Luis Enrique’s defending champions was the catalyst for a stunning revival on the south coast that saw Málaga take 13 points from their next six games to ensure another season of top-flight football.

Now, the Málaga hot seat is more of a sauna with the goodwill from the tail end of last season having long since evaporated. Club owner Abdullah Al-Thani and Míchel’s relationship has been strained since the start of the season and the odds on the former midfielder becoming the fourth managerial casualty are short. Míchel needs a performance, and probably to avoid defeat, in Camp Nou to ensure he remains in charge of Málaga for the visit of Celta next weekend.

Barcelona vs Málaga live online: possible line-ups

Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Digne; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Luis Suárez, Messi, Deulofeu. 

Coach: Ernesto Valverde

Málaga XI: Prieto; Rosales, Baysse, Hernández, Torres, Juankar; Rolón, Adrían; Peñaranda, Rolan, Juanpi.

Coach: Míchel

Barcelona vs Málaga live online: selected betting odds

Barcelona are overwhelming favourites to claim victory at 1/14 while Málaga taking all three points is priced at 25/1. The lowest correct score odds available are 6/1 - and that is for a 4-0 home win. Leo Messi is chalked up at just 3/1 to bag a hat-trick.

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