On Saturday night at La Rosaleda, Real Madrid did not just lose the league, they lost their minds, and watching them fall apart in Málaga required one to reflect on the man in charge.
José Mourinho has disrupted the team so much to the point that his players no longer work as a unit. On Saturday they slipped up again after dominating the first half and have gifted Barcelona the league title.
Madrid showed no hallmarks of their identity in Málaga, and not just because Mourinho hung captain Iker Casillas out to dry by leaving him on the bench, as he did with Sergio Ramos earlier in the season. Madrid also lacked their usual potency in front of goal and came up with no solutions to the mess they found themselves in.
Málaga deserved to be behind at the break but should have thrashed Madrid in the second half, and by the end of the game were counting down the minutes after gifting the visitors two goals.
Madrid deserved better in the opening period. They did not produce scintillating football but they created plenty of chances from start to finish. Cristiano Ronaldo tested Willy Caballero early on with a drilled free-kick, and then the Portuguese wasted a glorious chance, shooting wide after a perfect pass from Özil.
Málaga moved the ball around with ease, keen to defend Pellegrini's style against the team that rocked his reputation. They arrived in the opposition area but were unable to go further, with Javier Saviola running into the defensive wall of Pepe and Sergio Ramos. The hosts looked as if they were missing a reference point up front to take advantage of the great work of Nacho Monreal and Joaquín. Madrid, by contrast, were organised and tough in the tackle.
All changed in the second half, as Madrid lacked balance and team work, and Málaga went for the jugular without fear. Isco broke the deadlock, hitting a low shot past Adán right on the edge of the area after a cut back from Joaquín. The 20-year-old had been presented with the Golden Boy 2012 trophy before the game and his goal was the perfect way to celebrate. It was Málaga's first shot on target but it was enough to kill off Madrid.
Málaga could have, and perhaps should have, tried to close out the game but were loyal to their coach's style and did the opposite, and for large periods of the second half had their opponents on the ropes. Madrid got themselves back in the game due to pure luck, with Sergio Sánchez putting the ball in his own net after trying to tackle Benzema. The game was back on, but where Madrid would normally take the initiate, Málaga maintained their dominance. They also had a bit of luck on the way, with a handball by Eliseu in the area going unnoticed.
Pellegrini did not alter his plans and moments later his side were back in front, with Santa Cruz pouncing in the six yard box after a cross from Gámez and a backheel by Joaquín. It was the perfect combination and five minutes later the same two players were at it again.
Joaquín, without a doubt the man of the match, took on the defence and slipped a quick pass to the Paraguayan, whose first time shot fooled the helpless Adán.
Madrid were given another chance thanks to an error by Camacho and the opportunism of Benzema, but there was little time left and Málaga held on.
It was the least Pellegrini deserved. While his opposite number and successor at Madrid generates debates and controversy with direct football, the Chilean gets results by playing outstanding football.