Millennium Post

Double blow for Malaga’s preparations

Malaga were hit by lightning and the death of coach Manuel Pellegrini’s father as they prepared for Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Borussia Dortmund.

The Spaniards, who drew 0-0 in the first leg against Dortmund, slumped to a 4-2 defeat at Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday, with Pellegrini returning to Chile immediately after the game for the funeral.

Malaga said the coach intended to travel to Germany on Tuesday, a day later than his players.

The Spaniards also had to endure a nerve-wracking flight up to the Basque Country on Friday, when their aircraft was caught in a thunderstorm.

Unable to land in San Sebastian and diverted to nearby Bilbao, the plane touched down after being struck three times by lightning and the team had to finish their journey by coach.

‘It was generally a weekend to forget and let’s hope we can give the coach some joy on Tuesday,’ captain Weligton told reporters.  Pellegrini rested a host of key players as the Qatar-owned club slipped four points behind the fourth-placed Basque club with eight games left.

Centre back Weligton and midfielder Manuel Iturra both played as they are suspended for Tuesday’s game but playmaker Isco, winger Joaquin, midfielder Jeremy Toulalan and forward Javier Saviola, among others, did not feature.  ‘The defeat is painful but we have no time to dwell on it and we have to focus on Tuesday,’ forward Roque Santa Cruz told reporters.
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