Malaga on a roll heading into Porto clash
Malaga may have hit a vein of form at just the right time going into Tuesday's Champions League last-16 tie with FC Porto.
The weekend's hard-fought 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao means the Andalusian side travel to Portugal on the back of two successive wins for the first time in two months.
And manager Manuel Pellegrini declared himself happy with his side's preparation as he believes it is important to carry a positive momentum into their return to European action.
"To go into that game winning is different than doing so after a defeat," he told the club's website.
"We have maintained our position in fourth and now we want to get to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, although we have a very difficult game in Portugal on Tuesday. It is always important to go into those games after a win."
The Chilean coach even had the luxury of resting some of his key players as Martin Demichelis, Jeremy Toulalan and Joaquin all started on the bench.
He admitted to having one eye on the game on the game in midweek, when he said: "There is always a little attention on a Champions League game, but it was important to win to maintain our league position and even more so against a great opponent like Athletic."
Pellegrini's squad are also in pretty good shape with Eliseu the only absentee from the 22-man party that willl fly to Portugal on Monday morning.
Eliseu was, though, one of Malaga's stars in an incredible debut campaign in the Champions League as he scored four times in eight games.
And with Nacho Monreal having joined Arsenal in January, there is likely to be a Champions League debut for Portuguese full-back Vitorino Antunes.
However, Porto were themselves impressive in the Group stages with a return of 13 points and just one defeat from their six games.
The Portuguese champions stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 19 games with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Beira Mar on Friday night, thanks to a first goal for the club by Christian Atsu and a 20th of the season from the prolific Jackson Martinez.
The only down side for manager Vitor Pereira was a late red card for Eliaquim Mangala, but he is also satsfied with his side's form.
"It was a safe victory. We scored two goals and could have done one or two more, without allowing the opponent any chances and staying consistent," he told the club's website.
"We didn't have a brilliant game, but I am happy with the overall performance of the team.
"We knew it was important to get the three points and that is what we did. I am sorry for the red card shown to Mangala, because, for me, it was ridiculous."
Related Malaga News