Pellegrini: Malaga will attack Real
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini insists his side will not look to shut up shop against in-form Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey tomorrow night despite suffering a 7-0 mauling on their last trip to the Bernabeu.
Cristiano Ronaldo struck a hat-trick as Madrid thrashed Malaga in La Liga last March and, with 18 wins in their last 19 games this term, Jose Mourinho's cup holders are firm favourites heading into tomorrow's last-16 first leg. Nevertheless, ex-Real coach Pellegrini wants his team to take the game to his former employers as they seek to ruin the chance of a possible quarter-final showdown between Mourinho's men and Barcelona.
"Independent of the fact Madrid are the opponents, we're going to look for the best result possible. We're going to try and qualify with our play, we're not going to go out looking to draw 0-0," he said in Marca. "If we don't manage to get through it needs to be because Real Madrid have earned it."
Malaga have never won the Copa del Rey and they will have to do it the hard way if they are to break that duck this season. Should Malaga beat Real then they are likely to face Barcelona in the last eight, while Valencia, Sevilla and Primera Division surprise packages Levante are also in their side of the draw.
Malaga midfielder Santi Cazorla is well aware of the task facing his side, saying: "Right now they (Madrid) are the second best team in the world, for me after Barcelona, and they demonstrate that day after day."
Madrid, who beat Barca 1-0 in last season's final to earn Mourinho his first trophy with the capital club, are set to be without winger Angel Di Maria after he suffered a torn thigh muscle in training last week. The Real-Malaga first leg takes place tomorrow night, along with three other matches - two of which involve third tier sides against top-flight opposition..
Albacete, who knocked out Atletico Madrid in the previous round, take on Athletic Bilbao - whose record of 23 Copa triumphs is second only to Barca with 25 - while Mirandes' reward for beating Villarreal is a meeting with Racing Santander.
Also tomorrow, Segunda Division Alcorcon, who famously knocked out Real Madrid two seasons ago, face Levante. There are two games on Wednesday, with Barcelona facing a testing home clash with Osasuna and Real Mallorca going to Real Sociedad.
Osasuna have lost just once in their last 11 competitive matches and ended 2011 in fifth spot in La Liga, and although they lost 8-0 at the Camp Nou in September, Barça defender Adriano is not expecting it to be easy. "I'm sure Osasuna will be very motivated by the 8-0, they will try to give it everything in this competition," said Adriano, who is not thinking about a possible clash with Madrid in the next round. "We know what could happen. What's important now is Osasuna."
The remaining two matches take place on Thursday, including a clash between La Liga heavyweights Valencia and Sevilla at the Mestalla, and Espanyol going to second division Cordoba.