Míchel - Sevilla manager
"We trust each other to finish in the Champions League spots, it's time to take the step because we are not that far, which is good. Walking distance. Victory tomorrow would relaunch us and leave us in a very good position at the end of the year."
"I hope we can, for myself and the fans. Our ideas are clear and we’re trying to have maximum concentration."
A win in the Seville derby led to three consecutive matches in the league without a victory. Míchel made two changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Espanyol, Álvaro Negredo started following two goals in the Copa del Rey, whilst Gary Medel returned from suspension. Despite having his red card rescinded, José Antonio Reyes was only on the bench.
Manuel Pellegrini - Màlaga manager
"One cannot be aware of the precedents, and cannot forget they’re playing at home with a tough ground behind them,"
"Sevilla are a direct rival, and have players that can unbalance the game if you give them space and time."
Pellegrini also made two alterations to his starting eleven, Javier Saviola and Francisco Portillo dropped out, with Roque Santa Cruz and Manuel Iturra replacing. Màlaga were coming off the back of a 4-0 victory over Granada and had Eibar to play in the Copa del Rey in three days time.
The game started at a frantic pace with both teams looking to play directly and move the ball quickly, though it was apparent that Sevilla were considerably more successful at doing this. The midfield was almost bypassed completely in the opening exchanges, as the two teams goalkeepers sought out their own centre-forwards with long balls into them, with the idea to bring their team-mates into play. Sevilla were faster to the second balls and won a number of individual battles throughout the pitch, as their midfield took hold of the game.
Negredo's early effort rounding Willy Cabellero and striking the post, illustrated the obvious difference between him and Santa Cruz. The two teams looked to play direct balls to the strikers, but Negredo's movement and ball control enabled him to bring it down, provide trickery and find his fellow players; whilst Santa Cruz would be forced to flick on the ball or lose the header completely. In fact, most of Caballero's goal kicks would be into Màlaga's right-wing, where Santa Cruz had peeled onto Navarro where he held a 13cm height advantage. It was notable that straight balls into the forward would see him lose the dual against centre-back Fazio.
Sevilla managed to overload Màlaga on the wings frequently, either by advancing full-backs Coke and Navarro (whose cross hit the bar) or the opposite winger when on the counter-attack. Breaking away from set-pieces Jesús Navas and Diego Perotti would stick close together utilising their pace. The home side were dominant, but unable to capitalise on the chances created, they had fashioned 11 shots to Màlaga's three.
At half-time Pellegrini removed Iturra (who had been booked) for former Sevilla defender Sergio Sánchez, with Martín Demichelis moving into the defensive midfield position. Within five minutes the Argentine had opened the scoring with a header from a Joaquín corner, it would be pushing it to suggest the tactical change had paid off; however, he did look very assured in the midfield role for the rest of the match. As is often the case in this scenario, Màlaga grew in confidence, with Sevilla displaying signs of shock.
In a bid to revitalise his team Míchel made a double substitution in the 57th minute, Cicinho came on for Coke in a straight swap and Reyes replaced Kondogbia, with Rakitić dropping into midfield. It wasn't long after though, Rakitić got injured, as Sevilla looked to keep him on the pitch they became more and more disjointed. In the end they had to make their third and final substitution with over 20 minutes remaining, the normally attacking Manu was forced into midfield.
The second goal was the result of a Caballero goal-kick to Santa Cruz once again, this time the ball was to his feet where he almost ran the ball out of play. He laid it back to Gámez, the right-backs lofted ball played in Joaquín who beat Fazio for pace, the centre-back eventually bringing the former Real Betis winger down inside the area, leading to a straight red card and a penalty. Both teams had been keeping a high-line for the goal-kick and all 20 outfield players were separated by just 30 metres, before Gámez first time ball in behind the Sevilla defence. Eliseu finished off the resulting spot kick to make it 0-2.
Down to ten men and with no further changes available, Sevilla kept a back three. Navarro would tuck in at times, but Cicinho was naturally looking to continue the attacking full-back role. Straight away Pellegrini brought on Saviola and moved to a 4-4-2, Santa Cruz and Saviola would then take it turns to drop into midfield, reminiscent of the way Manchester United play the formation. From there on, Màlaga soaked up the pressure comfortably, springing attacks at will.
Sevilla paid for not taking their chances in a superior first half-hour spell. It was a brave decision by Míchel to make the double change, but it ultimately back-fired. He wasn't to know that Rakitić would be injured shortly afterwards or indeed Fazio would receive his marching orders, though six red cards in four games for this Sevilla team as a whole suggests the later is a general problem with discipline and his early move left them with little options. A mixture of the sending off, injury and early subs, denied his team of the core structure which had played so well at the beginning and any chance of getting back into the match.
Pellegrini's team has not dropped any points from winning positions this season, having struggled to get a foothold in the game initially his side didn't panic. His persistence with sticking with Santa Cruz was rewarded, when others may have replaced him for the more mobile Saviola at the break.
Míchel - Sevilla manager
"Under no circumstances will I reproach the players, we had a great first half, with intensity and taking chances."
"For me I'm not worried, I'll fix the situation, but not for myself, but for the club."
Manuel Pellegrini - Màlaga manager
"These points are very important indeed, having been at a difficult place."
"The best thing was that we changed the game"