Late afternoon all! Sports Mole
's live La Liga coverage continues from the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos as Almeria
welcome Malaga. The home side remain just outside the bottom three, but are far from safe and have a possible three-point deduction looming large. Malaga, meanwhile, have seen their strong campaign really suffer in the last couple of months. Another big game in Spain!
First and foremost, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news.
ALMERIA: Ruben; Casado, Trujillo, Ximo, Dubarbier; Verza, Thomas, Corona; Espinosa; Thievy, Silva
MALAGA: Kameni; Rosales, Angeleri, Weligton, Duda; Tissone, Darder; Amrabat, Duda, Samuel; Guerra
So there we have it. Almeria are without the suspended Mauro dos Santos here, while Fran Velez and Michel are still on the sidelines with injuries. Welligton Silva returns to the team in a forward position, but Jonathan Zongo and Tomer Hemed are only on the bench. Corona will captain the home side.
Malaga boss Javi Gracia, meanwhile, has rung the changes. Spanish midfielder Ignacio Camacho is out injured, but Juanmi, Recio, Sergio Sanchez and Samu Castillejo have all dropped to the bench. As a result, there are spots in the XI for Marcos Angeleri, Fernando Tissone, Duda and Javi Guerra
. Clearly, Gracia has not been best pleased with the recent performances and that is not a surprise at all.
Almeria have welcomed Malaga to this stadium on four separate occasions in Spain's top flight and have thus far not been beaten – winning twice in the process. What's more, Malaga have only scored one goal on their last four visits to Almeria in La Liga. Last season, the corresponding match finished goalless, but Almeria did win 2-1 at La Rosaleda earlier this term. Kickoff is fast approaching here.
As it stands, this round of La Liga fixtures are the only confirmed matches in Spain's top flight before the end of the season. All Spanish football competitions will be suspended on May 16 amid a strike that relates to TV rights. The Spanish Football Federation are in disagreement with the government, but there is hope that the situation will be rectified over the next week. Let's hope so anyway!
A total of 32 points from 35 games have left Almeria in 16th position in the table – one point clear of the bottom three. They have only won one of their last four in the league, but that victory did come in this stadium, while they recovered from two goals behind to draw 2-2 at home to Celta Vigo last time out. Incredibly, Almeria have only actually lost one of their last eight league games on home soil.
Almeria's recent home form is all the more surprising when considering how they started the season in this stadium. Still, they have only won three of their 17 home league matches – two fewer victories than they have managed on their travels. If the remainder of the Spanish season does indeed go ahead, Almeria will end with extremely tough games against Sevilla (A) and Valencia (H).
Malaga, meanwhile, have seen their grip on seventh position fade away in recent months. Gracia's side have not recorded all three points in the league since March 15, when they beat Cordoba. Since then, they have failed to win in eight and suffered five defeats in the process. Last time out, they were beaten at home by Elche, which has left them in eighth and now two points behind seventh-place Espanyol.
As mentioned, Malaga suffered a home defeat last time out, but they have generally been solid on home soil this season – winning eight of their 18 matches and losing just four. They have found it more difficult on the road, however, dropping points in 12 of their 17 games, which has included 10 defeats.
PREDICTION! If Malaga were in full flow then you would have to fancy them here, but Almeria have been good at home in recent weeks and will enter the match with plenty of confidence. It might be an untidy fixture for long spells, but I think Almeria have enough about them to claim a 1-1 draw.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. Can Almeria move clear of the bottom three here? It is the away side that get the first 45 minutes underway here.
Not quite a full house inside the stadium, but there is a good atmosphere this early evening in Spain. As expected, it has been a fast-paced start with both teams attempting to settle into events.
CHANCE! Super chance for the home side as Dubarbier races down the left before feeding Thomas, but the midfielder somehow slices wide of the post! Excellent opportunity there.
Almeria continue to threaten and force another opportunity when Silva feeds Thievy, who in turn finds Thomas, but this time the midfielder's effort is deflected high and wide. All Almeria at the moment!
CHANCE! Another incredible opportunity for the home side as Silva turns inside the box before poking one towards the far corner, but it just misses the post. Good grief how are Almeria not ahead!
Malaga have just not been in this game thus far as Almeria continue to boss matters in the final third, but you just get the feeling that the home side need to score during this spell of sustained pressure.
CHANCE! Finally a chance for Malaga as Samuel finds space outside the Almeria box before poking a pass into Guerra, but the striker cannot convert past Ruben from a tight angle.
Malaga have started to force the issue in the last couple of moments, with Duda and Amrabat both picking up possession in forward areas. It is an incredibly open game at the moment.
Another half-chance for the home side as Silva finds space in a wide area before delivering a low cross towards Thievy, but the forward was just not on the same wavelength as his teammate this time.
No goals in the opening 17 minutes, but it has been an open and entertaining game, with both teams prepared to commit players in the final third of the field. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - will be vital in terms of the final result. It is that type of match at the moment.
Half-chance for the away side as Tissone tries his luck from outside the box, but Ruben is on hand to make the save. Not too much happening in midfield at the moment - it is all in the final third!
It has been an untidy last couple of minutes, with both teams guilty of a number of late challenges. Silva and Thievy are causing Malaga all sorts of problems with their pace in the final third here.
GOAL! Almeria 0-1 Malaga (Casado OG)
Malaga take the lead in the 23rd minute as Amrabat's attempt from close range is fired into his own net by Casado. That should go down as an own goal, but Amrabat will want to claim it!
I would be surprised if we had seen the last of the goals in this one and Almeria have responded positively to falling behind. It was poor defending, but there was a touch of fortune about the goal from Malaga's point of view. It is just vital that the home side do not concede a second here.
Malaga had to ride their luck in the early exchanges here, but they are now looking very dangerous in the final third, with Darder the latest to try his luck from distance, but his effort was too high.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Malaga to score a second as Duda delivers a super cross into Guerra, but the Spaniard just cannot stretch far enough. Very unlucky, the ball was terrific.
GOAL! Almeria 1-1 Malaga (Thomas)
We are all square in this one as Thomas heads a Casado free kick into the bottom corner. Kameni departed his goal and got nowhere near the free kick! Almeria deserve to be on terms here!
Malaga's full-backs are both very advanced at the moment, which is leaving the visitors open to the counter attack and Almeria have plenty of pace in the final third. It is a cracking game at the moment.
BOOKING! Weligton (Malaga) is booked for a late challenge on Silva.
Casado takes the resulting free kick, but his effort flies high and wide of the crossbar.
Little over five minutes of the first period remaining and the score is still 1-1. This first half has just flown past, with both teams forcing the issue. There are surely more goals in this game!
Another half-chance for the away side as Guerra meets a cross from Duda, but his header was always comfortable for Ruben. Not many clear opportunities for either team at the moment here.
Malaga continue to threaten from wide areas as Boka delivers towards Guerra, but Casado - who has had a busy first half - is on hand to clear. Still 1-1 with 42 minutes on the clock in this one.
BOOKING! Casado (Almeria) is booked for a late challenge on Amrabat.
Duda fires the resulting free kick just high of the crossbar for Malaga.
Good pressure from Almeria in the last couple of moments as they force two corners in quick succession, but Malaga manage to clear the danger. Can the hosts score a second before the break?
HALF-TIME: Almeria 1-1 Malaga
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 1-1. An own goal from Casado sent Malaga into the lead in the 23rd minute, but Thomas levelled the scores just past the half-hour mark. It has been an open and extremely entertaining game in La Liga!
STATS! Malaga have just about shaded the possession with 55%, while they have had eight attempts - three of which have been on target. Almeria, meanwhile, have hit the target with just one of their five attempts, but it ended with a goal. There have also been two yellow cards thus far.
BENCH WATCH! Almeria boss Sergi has a host of attacking options on his bench this evening, with the likes of Hemed, Soriano and Zongo all capable of making a difference. Malaga, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Horta, Juanmi and Castillejo. Will we see any changes at the interval?
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. More of the same from the first half please! Almeria resume the action in front of their own supporters here.
No changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that alterations will occur if the score remains level for the next 15, 20 minutes in Almeria.
It has been a strong start to the second period from Almeria, but Malaga have such invention in the final third and you always fancy them to cause problems. It is so delicately poised at the moment.
Almeria have a penalty shout as Thievy goes down inside the box under a challenge from Angeleri, but the referee is not interested. It looked one to me! Malaga have got away with that there.
Half-chance for the away side as Guerra finds space outside the Almeria box, but his low effort was always moving wide of the post. Both teams are threatening each time they attack here.
Plenty happening in the middle of the park at the moment as the challenges continue to arrive, but there have not been too many clear chances in this second period. It remains 1-1 in Almeria.
SUB! Almeria make their first change as Marin replaces Casado.
CHANCE! Incredible chance for the home side as Espinosa meets a low cross from Silva, but somehow Kameni makes a point-blank save. That really should have been Almeria's second!
Silva is chopped down outside the Malaga box by Weligton, who has already been booked, but there is no red card. Almeria have an excellent chance to test Kameni from an advanced position...
... SAVE! Kameni flies across his goal to tip Corona's free kick over the crossbar!
SUB! Malaga make their first change as Sanchez replaces Weligton.
Both sides have had free kicks in advanced positions in the last five minutes or so, but neither has been able to take advantage. You just get the feeling that a third goal here would prove to be a winner.
Duda delivers another deep cross towards Sanchez, but Ruben flies out of his goal to make the clearance. There is a real sense of ill-feeling in this game as the challenges continue to arrive.
SUB! Almeria make their second change as Zongo replaces Espinosa.
It is a game of free kicks at the moment, but neither team are really threatening to score.
GOAL! Almeria 1-2 Malaga (Guerra)
Malaga score their second of the match in the 69th minute as Guerra turns home a super low cross from Amrabat. It is poor defending from Almeria, but a very smart finish from the Spaniard.
BOOKING! Soriano (Almeria) is booked for dissent.
BOOKING! Amrabat (Malaga) is booked for dissent.
Almeria have the chance to deliver another set piece from Corona, but Kameni flies out of his goal to make the clearance. Almeria need to be very careful that they do not concede a third on the counter.
Malaga again threaten in a wide area as Amrabat feeds Duda, but his cross is intercepted by Ruben. Little under 15 minutes of normal time remaining and Almeria really need to find a leveller here.
SUB! Malaga make their second change as Juanmi replaces Duda.
SUB! Almeria make their third change as Hemed replaces Verza.
Victory for Malaga would see them return to seventh position this evening, while Almeria would remain just outside of the relegation zone. However, this one is far from over this evening.
BOOKING! Samuel (Malaga) is booked for tugging Dubarbier's shirt.
Not too much happening at the moment in terms of chances, but Almeria are on the front foot. You can see another goal here, but Malaga are just as threatening on the counter attack here.
Half-chance for Malaga as Amrabat drives to the edge of the Almeria box before flashing one towards the bottom corner, but Ruben is on hand to make the save. Little under 10 minutes remaining.
Malaga again come close as Juanmi drives down the right before flashing a low cross towards Guerra, but Navarro is on hand to make the clearance. A third for Malaga would be devastating for Almeria.
CHANCE! Another incredible chance for the away side as the ball falls for Guerra inside the Almeria box, but his effort is over the crossbar. Almeria are playing a dangerous game.
Little under five minutes of normal time remaining and as it stands, Malaga are moving back into seventh position, which is incredible when considering their poor recent run. Almeria, meanwhile, will remain in big trouble just outside the relegation zone. An equaliser would be just massive here.
SUB! Malaga make their third change as Recio replaces Samuel.
BOOKING! Dubarbier (Almeria) is booked for dissent.
Time is running out for the home side and Malaga slow the play down once again as Amrabat forces a free kick in a wide position. Just a reminder that next up in La Liga Sevilla travel to Celta Vigo.
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes here.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side as Zongo collects a loose ball inside the Malaga box before firing towards the bottom corner, but it just moves wide! So close for Almeria!
BOOKING! Recio (Malaga) is booked for pulling Thomas.
Thomas heads straight into the arms of Kameni as the score remains 2-1 Malaga.
FULL-TIME: Almeria 1-2 Malaga
So there we have it. Malaga return to seventh position with a 2-1 win over Almeria, who remain just outside of the relegation zone. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!