Team who were one minute from Champions League semi relegated to regional league
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Former La Liga stalwarts Malaga have suffered a spectacular fall from grace with the club set for regional football next term.
Just one decade ago, Los Albicelestes were competing among Europe's most elite clubs in the Champions League and were a minute away from the semi-finals before Borussia Dortmund scored a contentious 'offside' goal in added time.
Riding the wave of Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani's €36m (£31m) takeover, with £12m worth of debt totally wiped out, stars Ruud van Nistelrooy, Santi Cazorla, Isco and Joaquin had fired Manuel Pellegrini's side to a historic fourth-placed finish during the 2011/12 season.
That guaranteed them a spot in the Champions League qualifiers, where they dispatched Green giants against Panathinaikos 2-0.
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Malaga then topped Group C ahead of AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg and Anderlecht, remaining undefeated with three wins and three draws. Iberian rivals Porto were dealt with in the first knockout round to set up a meeting against Borussia Dortmund.
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Following a 0-0 draw in the first leg, Malaga looked to be heading through to a semi-final date with Real Madrid, leading 2-1 with just minutes to play. But Dortmund then scored twice in added time, including one highly-contentious goal that appeared to be offside, to break Andalusian hearts in the cruelest of fashions.
Despite finishing sixth in La Liga, Malaga were prohibited from entering the Europa League the following season amid a UEFA investigation into financial fair play breaches. Pellegrini left for Manchester City shortly after the ban was imposed and Al Thani's spending ceased.
After 10 successive years mixing it with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, Malaga's La Liga adventure came to a halt in 2018 when the club finished rock bottom on a pitiful 20 points.
Relegation was met with a third-place finish the following season and the chance to return to the top flight at the first time of asking. Yet the club fell at the semi-final stage of the play-offs, losing 5-2 on aggregate to fellow fallen giants Deportivo La Coruna.
Malaga would fail to reach the play-offs in 2020 and 2021 but alarm bells were ringing around La Rosaleda Stadium when slipping down to the third tier looked an inevitability last season. However, the Andalusia club somehow scraped over the line by two points.
But relegation to the Primera Federacion – Spain's third-tier which is regionalised – was confirmed this term after a 2-1 defeat to Alaves last weekend.
The club was placed into the hands of an administrator in February 2020, one month before lockdown restrictions were imposed due to the outbreak of Covid-19, after allegations of misappropriation of funds.
The case was admitted after police raided Malaga's offices, with court-appointed administrator Jose Maria Munoz overseeing the day-to-day operations, a role which he still holds.
The future remains unclear for Malaga, with owner Al-Thani recently vowing never to put the club up for sale.
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- Champions League
- La Liga
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