La Liga weekend preview
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti admits he needs to make changes quickly if the capital club are to keep up with Primera Division rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
If not for a frustrating 2-2 draw at Villarreal, Ancelotti's men would have matched the early pacesetters with a 100 per cent record of their own until a 1-0 home defeat to arch-enemies Atleti in September cut them five points adrift.
Nervous victories over Elche and Levante have also been symptomatic of Real's current malaise.
Furthermore, the absence of 100million euro (£85.3million) signing Gareth Bale through injury - the Welsh winger did return to training this week - has denied the Italian the chance to field his preferred line-up.
He nevertheless concedes his tactical approach could use a few tweaks before Malaga arrive on Saturday afternoon.
"I'll try to change something, we need to play more with the ball but the change will take time," Ancelotti is quoted as saying in AS.
"Indeed, we've had some bad games so far and our problems have been compounded by the fact that Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have won all their games.
"We do need to play better, but certain criticism has been unfounded.
"As a coach I can say that in our next matches, against Malaga and Juventus (in the Champions League) at home and against Barcelona in the Nou Camp, we will do better.
"We just cannot play as badly as we did against Levante and Elche."
French striker Karim Benzema has scored five La Liga goals against Malaga, who are currently 10th, and will be fit to lead the line alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.
Reigning champions Barcelona, meanwhile, remain without Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano but visit an Osasuna side languishing in the bottom three.
The Catalans' bid to continue their fine start to the season with a remarkable ninth win on the spin will include Brazilians Neymar and Dani Alvez, with Cameroonian midfielder Alex Song also back from international duty.
Atletico show no signs of slowing down either - striker Diego Costa has scored 10 goals already - and head east in search of a fourth straight win over Espanyol.
Surprise package Getafe are looking to consolidate fifth with victory at Granada while recovering Valencia are now up to seventh and looking to push on at the expense of Real Sociedad.
Elsewhere on Sunday there is a mid-table battle between Real Betis and Elche as Real Valladolid welcome Sevilla to the Castilla y Leon region.
Almeria, who have only three points, will drag Rayo Vallecano into a unwanted share of last place if they beat the Madrid club at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos.
Monday's games could see Athletic Bilbao breach the top five with a positive result at home to fourth-placed Villarreal and Celta Vigo lock horns with Levante.