It’s the short, but relevant, story of CF Malaga. The Spanish side has maximum of points after the first two weeks from the UEFA Champions’ League 2012-2013 edition. Their first participation and already a great impact! Alright, they have also a solid position in the league table and a couple of top class footballers, but to reach such high peaks in Europe is very surprisingly. Not only the points say it all, but also the style in which they won: 3-0 both home against Zenit Sankt Petersburg and at Brussels in front of Anderlecht. Anyhow two teams with greater budget and, most important, much greater football tradition. So what? Malaga hasn’t any complex. Even though they might have some, if we consider their long history, but which is far from being one full of glory.
All started in 1904, when they were founded, but nothing notable happened until 1949, when they promote for the first time in the top flight. After, the presences in the first, second and third divisions oscillated. In fact, Malaga didn’t win a single trophy. Or, if you want, any important trophy… Being situated on Costa del Sol, the city of Malaga looked like the proper place to host the Costa del Sol Cup. And this happened from 1961 to 1983 and since 2003. Obviously, CF Malaga won this competition a couple of times, in eight occasions, to be more precise. Real Madrid, Red Star Beograd, Derby County, Newcastle United, Real Betis, Parma, Penarol and Everton were the opponents defeated. But who cares about Costa del Sol Cup?
Still, we can mention, as the biggest achievement of Malaga CF, the triumph in the UEFA Intertoto Cup from 2002. Not that this can be considered a big competition, but their success here brought them, for the first time in their history, a qualification for the European Cups! Yes, it happened in 2002, exactly a decade ago. After over passing Gent, Willem Tilburg and Villareal in Intertoto, Malaga met Zeljeznicar Sarajevo in the first round of the former UEFA Cup, now Europe League. A though qualification, with only 1-0 on aggregate and the next opponent was Amica Wronki from Poland. The 2-1 double win was the only such achievement in that competition in which eventually Malaga reached the quarter finals after putting out strong teams like Leeds and AEK Athens. Even against Boavista, they made a great impression, after being put out only after shootout.
It was the first and last appearance in Europe until 2012! After obtaining the fourth spot in the Spanish League at the end of the 2011-2012 season, with the help of players like Van Nistelrooy, Demichelis, Roque Santa Cruz, Saviola, Onyewu, Baptista, Cazorla or Toulalan, Malaga got the right to play in the last preliminary round of the UEFA Champions’ League. There, Panathinaikos couldn’t stay in their way and so the Andalusians qualified for the group stage in which happened, for now, what we had mention above.
But who are the man that contributed at this great performance? First of all, the two who scored twice each: Isco and Eliseu. The first of them is only a 20 years old youngster which appeared in all Spanish young national teams, starting U16 and which in the 2010-2011 season played a couple of times for Valencia. Eliseu reached 29 years of age but since 2009 he gathered a few caps in Portugal national team, while playing at Lazio. In fact, for the Romans he played only two matches and alongside this, his only experience outside Malaga, since 2007, consumed at Zaragoza in 2010.
Most of the players mentioned a little bit higher are very well known and also play this season at Malaga. But who knows who is Duda, Jesus Gamez or Fabrice Olinga? Few, of course… Like Eliseu, Duda is a Portuguese international, which has 32 years of age and was legitimated at Malaga, for the first time between 2001 – 2006 and after 2008, for the second time. He also spent two seasons at Sevilla, team alongside which he won all the trophies from his career: a UEFA Cup, one UEFA Sueprcup, a Spanish Cup and a Spanish Super Cup.
Meanwhile, Jesus Gamez became the symbol of Malaga and the team’s first captain. Arrived here in 2000, at the youth system, and after a short spell at the second squad he became a regular starter for the first team since 2005, even though he was only 20. In that period he also played four times for the U23 Spain national team. But that was it, because nobody called him after 2005. Gamez mined his own business and became a key player, not only in defense. He played more than 210 matches for Malaga, but scored only once. Not a strong performance, but who cares? Scoring is not his job!
Last, but not least, is Fabrice Olinga. He played only three official games for Malaga, including the 2-0 against Panathinaikos win. It looks like a thick performance at a first view but if we consider that the striker is born on 12th of May 1996 (!!!!), this really is something. Most of that, he also became the youngest ever player to score in La Liga, at 16 years and 91 days, when he netted the only goal of Celta Vigo – Malaga 0-1, in the first week day of the 2012-2013 season!