Evening all! Well I am really looking forward to this one. It is arguably the tie of the weekend with both of these sides expected to be in the Champions League picture come the end of the season.
Malaga: Caballero; Gamez, Weligton, Demichelis; Camacho, Toulahan, Eliseu, Portillo, Joaquin; Isco, Saviola
Valencia: Alves; Cissokho, Rami, Barragan, Costa; Gago, Feghouli, Banega, Guardado; Costa, Valdez
It is also worth mentioning that both teams have already booked their spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League, joining fellow Spanish outfits Real Madrid and Barcelona. It is a bright period for La Liga.
As mentioned, Malaga have not won in their last five matches in all competitions, but Valencia
are unbeaten in the same period. Valencia have also enjoyed the better of the recent meetings between the two, winning four of the previous five.
Here we go then. Handshakes? Check. Flags exchanged? Check. Two sides going in search of the top four? Check. There is a key piece of injury news, however, with no Roberto Soldado for Valencia.
Malaga kick us off on this mild evening in Spain. They have struggled in recent weeks, but their early-season form has given them a foundation to build. Stay with us for the 90 minutes of action.
Bullish start from Valdez as he jumps into a challenge with Martin Demichelis and fouls the big Argentine. The onus will be on him this evening in the absence of Soldado. Meanwhile, Malaga have forced a couple of early corners here.
Clear opening for Malaga in the early stages as Joaquin whips a high cross towards Eliseu, but Adil Rami
is on hand to clear the danger. The home side have made the better start here.
It must be said that the middle of the pitch has been ever so crowded thus far. You just get the feeling that the team that attacks in wide areas will get the most joy. But Malaga remain the side with control of the possession thus far.
GOAL! Malaga 1-0 Valencia (Portillo)
Malaga take the lead and it's a wonderful strike from Portillo as he bends the ball into the top corner from just inside the box.
That was some strike from the midfielder and it had been coming. Malaga had been passing and probing outside the Valencia box since the start of play. I have a feeling that will not be the last of the goals.
It's all one-way traffic at the moment with Javier Saviola
and Joaquin enjoying plenty of the ball in the early stages. Valencia just need a period of possession in order to settle the match down. They cannot concede another in quick succession.
It's nice football from Valencia as Banega and Guardado combine outside the Malaga box, but the attack breaks down and the home side launch a counter of their own. It really has been a strong start from Portillo & Co.
Valencia are certainly enjoying more possession after a difficult opening. But they are struggling to find that elusive final ball. Soldado really is such a big miss. Where are the goals going to come from without their talisman?
Penalty shout for the home side as Isco goes down in the box under the challenge of Barragan, but the referee waves play on and Valencia launch an attack of their own. Real end-to-end stuff at the moment.
The match has certainly settled after a lively opening with both sides exchanging spells of possession. Just a side note on this match, the pitch is absolutely terrible!
Another penalty appeal for Malaga as Eliseu strikes an effort at Rami from close range, but the referee remains uninterested. The game is just so delicately poised with 21 minutes on the clock.
Half-chance for Valencia as Barragan whips a dangerous cross into the penalty area, but Valdez just cannot make a proper connection and Willy Caballero restarts the play. Just signs of Valencia getting to grips in midfield.
Malaga have just upped their tempo in the past few minutes as they press and harry Valencia in midfield. Meanwhile, a wonderful display of skill from Isco is greeted with delight by the home crowd. He is going to be a top player.
We are still waiting for the first real attack from Valencia, but credit must be given to Malaga for the way they have lined up. Isco attempts another mazy run, but he is crowded out at the vital moment.
It just isn't quite happening for Valencia as Sofiane Feghouli advances into the Malaga box, but Weligton comes across to clear the danger with ease. Solid 30 minutes of football from Malaga based on their recent form.
Again it's good work from the home side as Joaquin dances into the Valencia box before rounding Barragan, but Ricardo Costa is just on hand to clear the danger. There is only one side in this at the moment.
Couple of half-chances for Malaga as Portillo strikes an effort from outside the box, but it is blocked before Saviola fires wide of the target. This is as well as Malaga have played all season.
Malaga really are turning the screw at the moment as Joaquin advances into the Valencia box, but he just fouls Rami in the process of rounding the defender. Little under 10 minutes of the half remaining and Valencia are struggling.
CHANCE! Clear opportunity for the home side as Isco finds the run of Saviola, but the striker can only fire over the crossbar. You just get the feeling that Malaga need to open up a two-goal lead because Valencia will improve.
The chances continue to fall the way of the home side as Joaquin meets a searching cross from Jesus Gamez, but the winger can only head wide from close range. Where has this first period gone? It has been pulsating.
Malaga continue to look the more likely as we approach the interval, but the longer it remains at 1-0 the more chance Valencia have of getting back into the match.
CHANCE! Another chance comes the way of the home side as Eliseu finds the run of Joaquin, but the winger is thwarted by a fine save from Diego Alves. Valencia really are struggling here.
Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute of football at the end of the half.
Malaga 1-0 Valencia
So there we have it. A first-half strike from Portillo hands Malaga a 1-0 lead over Valencia at the interval. But in truth it should have been more.
Let's take a look at some statistics from the opening half of football. Malaga have shaded the possession with 51% of the ball and have had six attempts to Valencia's one.
Valencia have certainly missed the invention of Soldado, but they have simply been unable to get possession into attacking areas in order to influence the match. Joaquin has been the star of the show for Malaga thus far.
Right, the second period will get underway shortly. Can Valencia respond? They will certainly need to make some changes. Meanwhile, just a reminder that we have action from Real Betis vs. Real Madrid following this match.
Here we go then. Valencia kick us off in the second half. Tino Costa has an immediate strike from distance, but it was never troubling Caballero.
Much better tempo from the away side at the beginning of this half. It's smart work from Gago as he combines with Cissokho in a wide area, but it breaks down at the vital moment. The next goal could ultimately decide this match.
Half-chance for Malaga as Portillo fires a low cross into the penalty area, but Saviola's effort is clawed away by Diego Alves. You can just sense that there are more goals in this match.
Valencia's impressive start to the half has just faded with Malaga taking control of the possession once more. Saviola again comes close with a looping header, but it is wide of the target.
Valencia are defending ever so deep at the moment as they continue to invite the pressure. But they simply do not have an out ball with Valdez unprepared to chase every long pass. The away side are playing into Malaga's hands at the moment.
Change for the away side as Jonas replaces Banega. It was a surprise that the Brazilian midfielder did not start. However, he has more than 30 minutes to influence proceedings.
Another half-chance comes the way of Malaga as Isco finds Saviola inside the box, but the striker drags his shot just wide of the target. This match really should be over. But it isn't. Not by a long shot.
Another penalty shout for the home side as Jeremy Toulalan is felled in the box, but the referee shakes his head. Meanwhile, Joaquin is booked for a dive just outside the box. Good decision from the referee.
Malaga really could have had three penalties in this match. The referee certainly got two decisions correct, but the third looked handball from Costa. Wouldn't it be just like football if Valencia scored the next goal? You can almost feel it coming.
The match has just become ever so bitty in the past few moments with both sides picking up a host of yellow cards. But Malaga remain the side controlling the tempo of the match with little over 25 minutes remaining.
You just get the feeling that Valencia need to make a change in the next five minutes or so. Malaga remain in total control, but it remains just 1-0 and with that score Valencia always have a chance.
It's bright work from Joaquin as he takes possession away from Costa before advancing on goal, but Alves is on hand to collect the danger. Meanwhile, change for Valencia as Guardado is replaced by Pablo Piatti.
Not a great deal happening in terms of chances at the moment. Malaga remain in control of the possession, but they are refusing to commit too many players forward as we approach the latter stages of the match.
Chance for the home side as Joaquin is chopped down by Costa outside the penalty area. However, Portillo's effort is straight into the wall and Valencia launch an attack of their own.
The bookings continue to flow for both sides as Adil Rami
is cautioned for fouling Saviola outside the penalty area. But once more the free kick from Isco is straight into the wall.
GOAL! Malaga 2-0 Valencia (Saviola)
Malaga finally have their second of the match as Saviola pounces on a loose pass before firing his effort into the bottom corner.
That goal has well and truly wrapped up the points for Malaga. They have certainly deserved it. Little under 15 minutes of football to play and the home side will continue to attack.
Half-chance for Valencia as Piatti strikes an effort from outside the box, but it just moved wide of the post. Meanwhile, it appears that Roque Santa Cruz
will soon join us for the home side.
The change is indeed made as the Manchester City striker replaces Joaquin. The Paraguayan has around 10 minutes to make his mark. But in truth this match is well and truly over.
Malaga continue to control the tempo of the match as Santa Cruz exchanges passes with Isco before the ball is played back to their defence.
GOAL! Malaga 3-0 Valencia (Santa Cruz)
Malaga have their third of the match as Santa Cruz collects a pass from Jesus Gamez before firing his effort past the goalkeeper.
It has been an impressive night of football from Malaga. However, you have to question the performance of Valencia. This is as poor as they have been all season. Little over five minutes remaining.
RED CARD! Adil Rami: Valencia are reduced to 10 men as Rami is dismissed for a second bookable offence. Their night has gone from bad to worse.
Meanwhile, change for the home side as Saviola is replaced by Sebastian Fernandez. You would not bet against another Malaga goal in the remaining moments.
Little over two minutes of normal time remaining and Malaga have total control of the possession. It has been a very successful night for a side that has been struggling for results and performances in recent weeks.
Final change of the match for the home side as Toulalan is replaced by Diego Buonanotte. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes.
GOAL! Malaga 4-0 Valencia (Isco)
Malaga have their fourth of the evening as Isco strikes a powerful effort into the bottom corner from outside the box.
Valencia attempt to open their tally as they force a couple of corners, but the danger is cleared and Santa Cruz has possession in the Valencia half. Little under one minute of football remaining.
Malaga 4-0 Valencia
Malaga return to form in impressive fashion with a 4-0 win over Valencia. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and stay with us for Real Betis versus Real Madrid. Until then!