MADRID, February 24 (Primera Liga) - Malaga go into Saturday's game at Atletico Madrid needing a lot of points if they are to beat the drop and the only way they are going to get a maximum return is if they show personality and commitment.
That is how boss Manuel Hierro sees it ahead of the contest against an in-form Atletico Madrid in the Vicente Calderon.
The Andalucians slipped to the foot of the table with a demoralising 2-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Real Mallorca last weekend, and have now lost six of their last seven games.
``We need to go all out in the Calderon because we have to try and recoup the points we lost against Mallorca last week,'' said Hierro, who replaced Antonio Tapia at the end of January.
``We were all very low after that defeat. Now we have a run of very difficult games but perhaps we can benefit from not being favourites to help move ourselves up the table.
``I understand the problems the players face having been a player in these situations myself, but I am sure that by showing some character and motivation we can overcome them.''
Hierro's problems were compounded during the week when first-choice goalkeeper Francesc Arnau collected a thigh injury that put him out for up to four weeks. Inaki Goitia is likely to be his replacement.
Arnau joins Marcelo Romero, Vicente Valcarce, Cesar Navas and Ricardo Bovio on the club's crowded injury list.
Atletico's impressive run of five consecutive league wins has transformed their aspirations under new boss Pepe Murcia and seen them climb to ninth in the table - just four points short of the UEFA Cup places.
But Murcia is refusing to talk of long-term objectives like Europe, or the upcoming derby against Real Madrid, as he focuses solely on the forthcoming game.
``If you look at the table you could be forgiven for thinking that this game would be easy, but nothing could be further from the truth,'' said Murcia.
``They are only two points from safety with plenty of games left for them to be able to avoid relegation.
``From now on, every game is like a final for us. It is natural for the press, the fans and everyone around the club to get excited about other objectives, but for me I am only interested in Malaga on Saturday.''
Murcia has Argentinian playmaker Ariel Ibagaza suspended for reaching five yellow cards, and will probably look to Gabi to step in.
Striker Mateja Kezman and midfielders Peter Luccin and Martin Petrov have all recovered from knocks in midweek to make the squad.
Spain striker Fernando Torres can expect a hard time from the Malaga players and fans after he celebrated scoring a penalty, in the 2-0 win back in October, by sticking his tongue out at the opposition fans.
La Liga | Sun, 24 Feb 06, 20:00 | Estadio Vicente Calderón