From outsiders to qualify to dark horses to lift the trophy, Málaga CF's maiden UEFA Champions League campaign has been nothing short of remarkable.
The Spanish Liga side have looked like old hands at Europe's elite club competition since their 2-0 aggregate victory against Panathinaikos FC in the play-offs. Three straight wins – without conceding – followed immediately in Group C, with their unbeaten record remaining intact throughout.
Throw in a hugely eye-catching attacking brand of football and it is little surprise Málaga have received such acclaim. Summer signing Javier Saviola has played no small part in helping them secure a round of 16 tie against FC Porto.
"It makes the team proud because, without a doubt, this is one of the biggest things that has happened in the club's history," said the 31-year-old forward. "For the fans it is marvellous because they've never been here with the team.
"The fans are experiencing it in a special way, together with the team. The team also responds to the supporters, these things go hand in hand. For us, it is very important that the people continue to support us."
Málaga's group stage exploits included victories against all three opponents – AC Milan, FC Zenit St Petersburg and RSC Anderlecht. Saviola reserves special praise for coach Manuel Pellegrini. "He likes good football and players who can handle the ball well," said the former Argentinian international.
"He is a coach who wants good football to prevail over anything else. In modern football, where sometimes the physical and tactical aspects of the game are given priority, it is good to have a coach who tries to play attractive football."
View the video above for the full Saviola interview.
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