Cazorla: We will fight for third
Santi Cazorla has vowed his Malaga team will fight for the third and automatic Champions League spot with just five games of the campaign remaining.
“We are in an unbelievable situation, said the Spanish international. “We are fourth with five games left and three points ahead of the fifth-placed team. The most important stage of this season is still to come and we will fight for third place as we are one point behind Valencia, who still have to visit La Rosaleda. We have five finals left.”
Main rivals Valencia are still involved in a Europa League two-legged semi-final with fellow Spaniards Atletico Madrid, something Cazorla believes could benefit Malaga in the run-in to the season.
“I think the semi-final games could work in our favour because Valencia are also just one step away from a possible final. Tiredness may come into it with regard to the league, provided we keep on picking up points. But if we don’t then it will not mean anything,” he added.
The Costa del Sol side face three tricky away trips to Osasuna, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, while apart from Valencia they face a visit from strugglers Sporting Gijon: Cazorla believes six points on their home patch are a must for Malaga, who must win at least once on their travels.
“It’s difficult to evaluate,” said the former Villarreal man. “What we have in mind is not to lose any more home points so we make things easier for ourselves. I think we must get something away to ensure a top-four finish, yet in the dressing room we feel we will have done well to qualify for the Europa League.”
Boss Manuel Pellegrini could have both Joaquin Sanchez and Julio Baptista back after injury for the final fixtures and Cazorla thinks it will give the squad a good moral boost at this juncture.
“It will be good to have both Joaquin and Julio back. Joaquin was in great form when he was injured and we are a much stronger side with Julio in it. They are two key players,” he concluded.