Malaga v Barcelona: 5 Key issues

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Barcelona travel to La Rosaleda this evening to do battle with a Malaga side who have endured a fairly indifferent start to the season.

Javi Gracia will surely be looking for an improvement against the Catalans who have been in superlative form already this season.

However, an indifferent start to the season needs to be addressed immediately if the hosts want to take anything out of the game.

Let's take a look at five factors that are likely to determine the result of this one...

History on Barca's side

History is very definitely on Barca's side. Over the last 10 years, and spanning 19 games, Malaga haven't taken the three points on a single occasion.

Two draws is as good as it's got with Barca winning the other 17, per Fussball Wettpoint.

Given the Blaugrana's astonishing start to the season, it would be hard to see past them again for this one.

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Malaga's lack of authority

In order to have a chance against Barca then you have to at least match them for effort.

Only once in the last four years have the Catalans lost out on the possession stats over 90 minutes so Malaga will readily accept they'll have less ball than their visitors.

But for the third of the game that they will have the ball, they must command the pitch and exert some authority.

Something that they've seemingly been unable to do on a regular enough basis so far this season.

Luis Alberto against his old side

Luis Alberto will very definitely have a point to prove against his old employers.

Despite striking up a very successful partnership with Gerard Deulofeu whilst at Barca B, the Catalans saw fit to sell Alberto to Liverpool, who in turn have loaned him for the season to Los Boquerones.

The winner on debut against Athletic Bilbao was the perfect way to announce himself to the supporters and he'll set about proving why Barcelona were wrong not to take up the €9.4 million option when they had the chance.

Master Messi

Lionel Messi has quickly shaken off the disappointment of losing the World Cup final.

So much so that everyone is already marvelling at his start to the season rather than dwelling on events in Rio.

With the bit between his teeth again, Messi looks well up for every game and if he's not scoring then, as per, he is racking up assists aplenty.

Luis Enrique seems to be tapped into exactly what makes Messi tick which can only be good news for the Blaugrana.


This game comes slap back in the middle of three games in seven days for both teams.

With Barca also having a tough Champions League opening fixture to negotiate, four games in 10 days very obviously requires some squad rotation during this congested period.

Will either manager therefore look to a much changed first XI for this one, to ensure all members of the squad remain fresh and competitive?

In Barca's case, that could mean a focus on youth, which could mean more match time for the likes of Sergi Samper, Munir El-Haddadi et al.

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