The fortunes of the two teams couldn’t be different as they head into their week 28 fixture. Málaga are already eight points adrift of safety whilst Barça are eight points ahead at the top of the table – but this game is also a return to the venue of the Catalans' last league defeat, a record-chasing 34 games ago!
Nélson Semedo, Denis Suárez and Andrés Iniesta all miss out through injury. Lionel Messi withdrew at the last minute due to personal reasons and is replaced by Yerry Mina.
So, the squad that’s headed south to the Costa del Sol is as follows: Ter Stegen, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suárez, Mina, Dembélé, Cillessen, Coutinho, Paulinho, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal, Umtiti and Vermaelen.
For Málaga, Juan Carlos Pérez, Adalberto Peñaranda, Adrián González and Recio are all out injured.
Speaking on Friday, Barça boss Ernesto Valverde discussed the importance of continuing to collect points despite the massive lead in La Liga, the unpredictability of facing teams that are battling with relegation and his insistence that his players are not distracted by the upcoming fixture with Chelsea (TICKETS)
Even though confidence in the Málaga squad is low, José González is still positive of a result on Saturday evening, saying: “Whatever the situation, you can win any game. That’s the beauty of football.”
Málaga have lost 10 of their last 12 games, drawing the other two, and have failed to score in nine of those matches. By contrast, Barça have won eight and drawn four of their last dozen, scoring in all but one.
Barça haven’t scored in two of their last three visits to La Rosaleda, but only lost one of those meetings, the most recent. Since the turn of the century, they have visited Málaga on 16 occasions in La Liga, winning nine, drawing five and losing two.