Sep 24, 2016 at 3.15pm UK at ​El Molinon
Sporting GijonSporting Gijon

Lora (9'), Amorebieta (86')
Lora (74')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Suarez (29'), Rafinha (32'), Neymar (81', 88'), Turan (85')

Preview: Sporting Gijon vs. Barcelona

Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Sporting Gijon and Barcelona from El Molinon.

Spanish champions Barcelona will look to move above rivals Real Madrid to the top of La Liga when they travel to Sporting Gijon on Saturday afternoon.

The visitors will enter this weekend's fixture third in the table on 10 points, but any victory would see them leap above second-placed Sevilla and Real Madrid, who are also both in action on Saturday.

Sporting Gijon

Head Abelardo Fernandez of Sporting Gijon reacts during the La Liga match between Sporting Gijon and Real Madrid at Estadio El Molinon on August 23, 201© Getty Images

It has been a solid start to the new campaign for Sporting Gijon, with two wins, one draw and two defeats from their opening five matches leaving them in 11th position in the table on seven points.

They actually started the new season with an impressive home win over Athletic Bilbao, before drawing with Alaves and beating Leganes in their next two matches, which left them among the early leaders in Spain's top flight.

The hosts will enter this match off the back of two disappointing results, however, having lost 5-0 at Atletico Madrid on September 17 and 2-1 at Celta Vigo during the week. It has been an uncomfortable seven days for the Red and Whites, but head coach Abelardo Fernandez will be delighted with his side's points total at this stage of the season.

Rojiblancos earned promotion to La Liga when they finished second in the Segunda Division in the 2014-15 campaign and they survived by their fingertips in the top flight last season – finishing in 17th position, just one point above Rayo Vallecano, who dropped into the Segunda alongside Getafe and Levante.

Seventeenth or above would once again represent a brilliant campaign for Sporting and they have made a solid start to the season. In terms of what is to come, they will travel to Deportivo La Coruna next weekend, before facing Valencia (H), Granada (A) and Sevilla (H) in the month of October, which will be a good test of their credentials.

Recent form: WDWLL


Luis Suarez celebrates scoring during the La Liga game between Barcelona and Espanyol on May 8, 2016© AFP

Barcelona might be the finest team in world football and indeed might win another treble this season, but they have not exactly been all-conquering in the early weeks of the campaign - dropping points in two of their five La Liga matches thus far, including a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.

A draw against one of their title rivals was far from disastrous, but they already trail Real Madrid in the table having suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to Alaves in their first match after the international break. A record of three wins, one draw and one defeat from five league games has left them third, behind both Sevilla and Real Madrid in the top flight.

It was a strong start to the new season for Barcelona as they won the Spanish Super Cup in a two-legged affair with Sevilla, before opening their La Liga title defence with a 6-2 win at home to Real Betis. Their second league match brought a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao, but they incredibly lost 2-1 at home to Alaves on September 10.

Luis Enrique's side then opened their Champions League campaign with a sensational 7-0 win over Celtic, before moving onto nine points in the league with a 5-1 victory at Leganes on September 17. Their first serious test of the season arrived on Wednesday when they welcomed Atletico and Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw after Angel Correa cancelled out a header from Ivan Rakitic.

In terms of what is ahead for the Spanish champions, they will travel to Germany to take on Borussia Monchengladbach in their second Champions League group match next week, before visiting Celta Vigo in the league early next month. They will then welcome Deportivo La Coruna on October 15, before hosting Manchester City in the Champions League on October 19.

Unsurprisingly, Barcelona had the best away record in La Liga last season – winning 13 of their 19 matches and collecting 42 points in the process. They also scored 45 times on their travels and hit five against Leganes in their last away trip in the top flight.

Recent form: WWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWD

Team News

Lionel Messi watches on from the bench as Barcelona take on Atletico Madrid on September 12, 2015© Getty Images

Sporting Gijon are still without the services of Spanish midfielder Moi Gomez, but Xavi Torres is expected to overcome a slight knock to continue in the middle of the park.

Isma Lopez and Carlos Castro both came off the bench against Sociedad during the week, but Abelardo will reportedly continue with Borja Viguera and Duje Cop as his two strikers in an interchangeable 4-4-2 formation.

As for Barcelona, Lionel Messi has been ruled out for the next three weeks with a groin strain, while Sergio Busquets is also expected to miss out after picking up an injury during Wednesday's clash with Atletico.

Messi's absence could allow Arda Turan to return to the starting XI alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar, while Samuel Umtiti could return to centre-back alongside Gerard Pique, pushing Javier Mascherano forward into central midfield.

Sporting Gijon possible starting lineup:
Cuellar; Lora, Babin, Amorebieta, L.Castellano; Rodriguez, Torres, Alvarez, Akram; Viguera, Cop

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Mascherano, Iniesta; Turan, Suarez, Neymar

Head To Head

Sporting have only ever beaten Barcelona on two occasions in the top flight, although both of those wins came on home soil – 2-0 in January 1994 and 2-1 in September 1994.

Since then, Barcelona have utterly dominated the meetings and indeed recorded a 6-0 victory and 3-1 success last term. The last time that Sporting avoided defeat in this fixture was in February 2011.

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We say: Sporting Gijon 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona might be without the services of a certain Argentine, but it is very difficult to predict them dropping the points again this weekend. Sporting have had a couple of disappointing results in recent matches and we expect the visitors to claim all the points in comfortable fashion on Saturday afternoon.

Who will win Saturday's clash between Sporting Gijon and Barcelona?

Sporting Gijon
Sporting Gijon
Athletic Bilbao's Spanish forward Inaki Williams celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Europe League round of 32 football match Torino Vs Athletic Bilbao on February 19, 2015
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