Malaga v Granada preview
There'll be a lot of unfamiliarity at La Rosaleda on Monday night as Malaga's new-look squad make their home bow against a Granada team playing their first away fixture in La Liga since 1976.
Last Updated: September 12, 2011 8:41am
Pellegrini: Looking for new boys to shine
The end of Granada's 35 year top flight exile did not bring the desired result after a late Ruben Castro goal consigned them to a 1-0 defeat against Real Betis. It was a disappointing result for Granada, whose strong home form last season - just two defeats - contributed to their promotion.
In fact, it's fair to say their home form was a major contribution given their mediocre away form. Granada picked up just three wins away from Los Carmenes last season, all against sides in the bottom five. Manager Fabri Gonzalez will hope that is dramatically remedied as they prepare to face their Andalucian rivals.
But Malaga didn't have things their own way on the opening weekend either; the burden of expectation fell heavily upon them, as did the boot of Alvaro Negredo, who scored twice in Sevilla's 2-1 defeat. The undoubted highlight for Pellegrini's men, Santi Cazorla's superb free-kick, nothing more than a consolation goal.
Like Granada, they'll hope to improve their form; the difference being Malaga's home form is what threatened them with relegation until Pellegrini and major investment saved them.
Just seven wins and three draws represented the second worst home form in the division with just lowly Almeria outdoing them.
This is a different Malaga, however, with a manager at the helm who won 18 out of 19 home matches when in charge of Real Madrid in 2008/2009. The attacking prowess of Santi Cazorla, Julio Baptista, Isco, Diego Buonanotte, Salomon Rondon and Ruud van Nistelrooy should have enough to break down the smaller teams who will have the temptation to park the bus at La Rosaleda. Granada drew 10 times on the road last season, so will look to stifle Malaga in the first half.
Both Malaga and Granada will hope their fortunes will change ahead of this new season; both will hope their pre-season aspirations - European football and avoiding relegation - can get back on track after a disappointing start to their campaigns.
Best bet: Draw/Malaga HT/FT - 3/1
Spanish Primera BBVA