Europe

Barcelona v Malaga : Pep Guardiola looking for strong La Liga finish before departure

Barcelona will be looking to mark the first home game since Pep Guardiola announced his departure with three points when they host Malaga on Wednesday evening, as Ladbrokes announce free bets and predictably offer short odds on the Catalan giants to claim the three points at the Camp Nou.

Following the Champions League semi-final exit to Chelsea, Guardiola revealed that he would be stepping down from his position as manager, saying that he needed a break from football.

Given the success he has had at the club, it came as a shock to many and at the press conference to announce the decision, several Barcelona players were present and visibly upset.

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They responded fantastically well to the news on the pitch though, winning 7-0 at Rayo Vallecano last time out. They will now be after more of the same against Malaga on Wednesday night.

As far as what Barcelona can achieve in the league this season, the title race is all but over with Real Madrid seven points ahead with three games remaining. If Madrid win at Athletic Bilbao, they will officially be Champions.

Guardiola’s men need to make sure they finish strongly though, not only to ensure he finishes on a positive note, but to take some form into the Copa del Rey final against Bilbao at the end of the season.

As for Malaga, they will know what a tough task they have on their hands this week. Barcelona can play with freedom and this could be a dangerous quality for the visitors to face.

Malaga do have it all to play for in the remaining three games though, with Champions League football in their sights. As things stand they are 4th in La Liga, level on points with Valencia in 3rd.

Therefore, the battle for a place in the top four – and therefore Champions League qualification – looks set to go down to the wire. A positive result on Wednesday would be a massive boost for them, no doubt about that.

When these two teams last met, it ended in a 4-1 win for the Spanish Champions and there is no doubt that the home side are expected to get the job done on Wednesday. However, with Malaga boosted by victory over Valencia last time out, they are capable of causing an upset.

This one gets underway at 7pm on Wednesday evening.

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