Barcelona will travel to the El Molinon to take on Sporting Gijon in their next round of La Liga. Luis Enrique’s men currently sit 3rd in the League table with 10 points from their 5 games so far while their opponents are 12th in the table with 7 points. Abelardo Fernandez’s men made a promising start to the season with two wins and a draw in their first three matches but have lost momentum after losing their last two games.
Barcelona, on the other hand, had to experience a shock defeat against minnows Alaves and were held to a draw in their last game by Atletico Madrid. Sporting has a chance of going level on points with the Catalan club if they win the tie. The hosts last beat Barcelona in 1995 and has lost 15 of their last 17 fixtures with them. It will thus be a huge upset if they can manage to get a positive result from the tie.
Sporting will probably miss the services of attacking midfielder Moi Gomez, who is doubtful for the tie. Else, the hosts have a squad which is fully fit and Fernandez is likely to field the same eleven which played in their last game.
The biggest negative news for the visitors is that Lionel Messi is out with an injury and is expected to be out of action for at least three weeks. Defender Umtiti is also out with a ligament damage and Andres Iniesta can be on the bench for the tie meaning there would be starts for Arda Turan and Andre Gomez.
Sporting Gijon (4-4-2): Cuellar; Amorebieta, Babin, Castellano, Lora; Torres, Alvarez, Rodriguez, Afif; Cop, Viguera.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Gomez; Arda, Suarez, Neymar.
The hosts were awful defensively in their last two games conceding 7 goals and losing the contests expectedly. Against Barcelona, they would be hoping that their defence performs a lot better else they would be in for another real hammering. Experienced centre-back Fernando Amorebieta is thus the key for the hosts. The Former Athletic Bilbao man needs to lead by example and organise his back four expertly if they are to have any chance of getting something out of the game.
With the absence of Messi, Luis Suarez would have to shoulder a greater responsibility of both scoring the goals and creating chances for his teammates. The Uruguayan scored a superb hat-trick in the last match against Gijon and he would be hoping to repeat more of the same with their defence being shaky in their last two outings.
Barcelona are undoubted favourites with a win for them given at 2/9 as Sporting is tipped at 10/1 for a win. A draw is priced at 5/1. (Paddypower)