Málaga cry conspiracy after climactic Champions League catastrophe

It was almost enough to bring a tear to La Liga Loca’s eye. Almost. No, not Málaga’s heartbreaking and somewhat controversial departure from the Champions League, but listening to a distraught Joaquín discussing the topic on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser after Tuesday’s match.

Normally, the Málaga winger is the smiliest person on the planet; always showing good humour and cracking jokes. But Joaquín sounded as if he was about to melt into a pool of despair when going over the side’s injury time exit to Borussia Dortmund.

The scorer of the first goal in the 3-2 defeat summed up the feeling in the Málaga camp with regards to the root cause for their departure from the Champions League after the Germans knocked in a late offsider winner: UEFA and Michel Platini have got it in for them. “We aren’t Real Madrid or Barça so it’s easy to do this to us,” retorted Joaquín in reference to the current ban imposed on Málaga for all European competitions for next year.

Even the normally very coy and diplomatic Manuel Pellegrini hinted something fishy was going on. “What happened was far from the parameters of what we were able to manage,” advised the Málaga coach. “It’s difficult for a team under sanctions to play in the Champions League final.”

Málaga midfielder Ignacio Camacho claimed his side were “robbed”, while an indignant AS reported that "[Scottish referee] Thomson puts Málaga out,” overlooking the fact Málaga’s second goal was also offside.  

Club president Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani had another, more ‘out there’ explanation for Málaga’s exit. “This is not football, but racism and clear as all (sic),”  he tweeted.

It was quite the outburst from a figure who has over the last year been strangely silent on several key questions. These include why players had gone unpaid then sold suddenly, why transfer payments had gone into arrears with other clubs and what exactly the future holds for Málaga. But it’s good to know the club’s bigwig is still alive and kicking, all the same.

An early goal for Cristiano Ronaldo in Istanbul had LLL, like anyone else watching the game, mentally switching off, with Madrid 4-0 up on aggregate. The problem is that the visiting players did the same and Galatasaray managed to pull three back with some twenty minutes left, to leave viewers thinking “they couldn’t could they?”.

The answer was the negative, with Madrid hanging on and Ronaldo - “a hell’s angel” according to Marca - scoring a late second for Madrid.

“I hope this serves as a lesson for the future,” scolded a player who now has 11 Champions League goals for the season.

Mourinho was not entirely happy with the result, as was to be expected, but praised Madrid’s Turkish opponents and also the crowd, with the Portuguese always happy to find a chance to make a comparison with the somnambulant Santiago Bernabéu. “You don’t play against eleven, but 50,011,” noted Mourinho.

And on to Barcelona, who host PSG on Wednesday evening after a first leg that ended up 2-2 in Paris. Early confidence at the Camp Nou might have been diminished somewhat by Tuesday night’s madness in the Champions League, and that may well have an influence on whether the pinging hamstring of Leo Messi will be taking to the field from the start. The forward still hasn’t got an anti-sick note from the club doctors and won’t get it until a late fitness test, although the front cover of ‘Sport’ notes that Messi “wants to play”.

Normally, whatever Messi wants, Messi gets, but Francesc Aguilar, writing in Mundo Deportivo, recalls that “only Tito has convinced Messi that he should start on the bench four times this season. He will try to have him sat down at his side from the start, but later on, it will be more difficult to stop him going out onto the pitch.”

Judging by the dramatics of Tuesday night, Barça fans will now be more than happy to see the Argentinean parked on his bum for 90 minutes, as that will signify a calm, quiet night for the Catalan club.

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