José Mourinho's recent shopping trip caused quite a commotion in Madrid, as Spanish TV programme Punto Pelota announced that the manager had been spotted buying €200 worth of boxes and masking tape. This was supposedly evidence and exclusive proof that 'The Special One' was moving out.
Perhaps what's more revealing is that a current centre-back spoke out about him this week. Fellow countryman Pepe took a surprising stance as he backed club captain Iker Casillas: "Iker is well-loved. What the coach said was not the most appropriate. He’s an institution, both in this club and in Spain."
The coach retaliated at his press conference, suggesting that Pepe was merely upset at being left out in favour of Raphael Varane: "His problem is about frustration. It's hard to be a great player, 31 years-old and being compromised by a boy who is just 19."
Another manager firmly linked with a move to England is Manuel Pellegrini. Having been rarely paid and seen a number of promises broken, the Chilean took Málaga to the quarter-finals of their debut Champions League season and has the club in a respectable sixth position. Having sat in the Madrid hot-seat he will understand Mourinho's plight, even if he doesn't sympathise with his opposite number.
The whole of last season’s regular back five could be missing, with Álvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos all injured, whilst Pepe could well be sitting next to Casillas in the ostracised section. Raphäel Varane and Michael Essien are expected to return to the first eleven.
Weligton is out through suspension, so Diego Lugano will probably come into the centre of defence for the away team. Javier Saviola will be hoping to lead the line against his former club.
Real Valladolid made a game of it and pushed the team from the capital. Madrid are bumbling towards the Copa del Rey final, but still getting results. Madrid has conceded first in five of their last seven league games, through poor lapses of concentration. It's 3.50 for the away team to score in the first-half. Defeat to Andalusian rivals Granada meant Málaga have now lost four of their last six games.
The two sides met four times in the last calendar year, with the team from south-Spain winning the most recent encounter 3-2. They were at the comfort of La Rosaleda on that occasion though.
As Los Blancos has increasingly needed a wake-up call, then take a look at Málaga's players for first goalscorer. It's 5.50 and 4.00 for strikers Roque Santa Cruz and Saviola to be the first to net, or a more rewarding 6.50 for young starlet Isco. Two headers on Saturday from Cristiano Ronaldo put him on 53 goals for the season. He is now one short of the 200 mark for Real Madrid and the superstar is just 1.33 to reach the double century here.
Mourinho has spoken about the teams incredible home record this campaign. He won't want to let that slip here, especially with Pellegrini back in town. It's 1.20 for a Real Madrid win.
Madrid has won nine of the last ten league matches, yet has kept just one clean sheet in that period. The previously watertight Málaga defence has let in 14 goals in the last six in all competitions and it's 1.80 for both teams to score.
Real Madrid 3-2 Málaga (32.00)
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