Malaga v Racing preview
Enzo Maresca says patience and concentration will be needed for Malaga to secure a top-four finish.
Last Updated: 09/04/12 10:23am
Malaga midfielder Enzo Maresca believes patience and concentration will be two key attributes his side need to have as they chase a Champions League berth over the final weeks of the season.
Big-spending Malaga saw their good recent run come to an end last weekend when they suffered a surprise 2-0 home defeat to Andalusian neighbours Real Betis, and that result opened the door for Levante to reclaim fourth spot with Sunday's 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid.
However, Manuel Pellegrini's side can move back into the Champions League spots with a victory over struggling Racing Santander on Monday night.
Malaga will be firm favourites to pick up a three-point haul against a Racing side who are without a victory since mid-January and have lost six of their last eight matches, but Maresca knows his team cannot get ahead of themselves.
He said: "The fans are the ones that can get excited, we need to be as focused as possible. The mental aspect is more important than the physical, we need to be ice cold, patient and take it one match at a time.
"The more experienced players have seen these situations before, so handle things differently to the younger players. We need to convey calm."
Regarding last weekend's disappointment, the 32-year-old Italian added: "Betis needed the points and we knew they'd double their efforts.
"Racing won't be an easy match at all, we must be patient, as any team can win a match right up until the 95th minute."
Racing's poor run has seen them slip into the bottom two of the Primera Division standings and they make the long trip south seven points adrift of Villarreal and safety.
Racing coach Alvaro Cervera said: "We know that winning one game will not get us out of the mess we are in, but it would allow us to continue dreaming."
Cervera has called up teenage midfielder Quique Rivero for Monday's game, with Tono, Jose Picon and Lautaro Acosta out injured, while Malaga are missing a number of key players with Joaquin Sanchez, Jeremy Toulalan, Willy Caballero, Julio Baptista and Juanmi all unfit.
Best bet: Santi Cazorla to score first - 13/2