Barcelona have a tough fixture against Sporting Gijón which starts a run of three games away from home.
The Catalans go into this match after the intense draw against Atlético at Camp Nou. That match was the second time that Barça have dropped points this season, so this match is a must win. Therefore it won’t be a surprise if little squad rotation is done apart from the forced changes due to injuries.
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Sporting Gijón have had a good start to the season considering that they were battling relegation last season. They have managed to gain seven points so far this season with an impressive with against Athletic Bilbao. Although the last two games have seem them lose twice with an aggregate scoreline of 1-7. However, one of them games was against Atlético Madrid which they lost 5-0. The team from Asturias will be hoping that they can use home advantage to stop their losing run. They have won both home games so far this season which means they could be tough opponents.
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Barcelona have a few major injuries in key areas going in to the match. Lionel Messi picked up a groin strain in the last match, and Samuel Umtiti has a knee injury which was picked up in training over the past week. This means that Javier Mascherano will probably start, and he really needs to bring back the assured performances we used to see. Sergio Busquets went off with an injury against Atlético, but he is able to play against Gijón which is a welcome boost. Aleix Vidal and Jordi Masip have been left out of the squad, but Rafinha makes a return. Vidal has really fallen down the pecking order due to his poor performances so far. Gijón have no major injuries to contend with for the match which is important for a game against such high quality opposition.
BARCELONA, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 9: Aleix Vidal of F.C.Barcelona reacts during the Spanish League match between F.C Barcelona vs Deportivo Alavés at Nou Camp, on September, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Joan Cros Garcia/Corbis via Getty Images)
Last season, Barcelona won both games between the two sides with the game in Gijón finishing 3-1. The last time Barcelona lost against Gijón was in 1994 , and the last time they dropped points was in 2011. Therefore Barça are heavy favourites for the match based on history. This combined with the form of the teams going in to the match means that Barcelona really should win this match comfortably. However, Gijón do have a habit of surprising the big teams when playing at home with the 2-1 win against Atlético Madrid last season being a great example. This means Luis Enrique should be wary, but the game against Alavés will still be in the back of his mind.
Barcelona’s coach Luis Enrique (L) hugs Sporting Gijon’s coach Abelardo before the start of the Spanish league football match Real Sporting de Gijon vs FC Barcelona at El Molinon stadium in Gijon on February 17, 2016. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Asturian team like to soak up pressure and play on the counter-attack with speed being the key. This is especially prevalent against the big teams due to sides such as Barça relying on possession for their specific style of play. They have quality strikers up front such as Duje Čop and Borja Viguera with Čop scoring three goals already this season, so Gerard Piqué and Mascherano need to watch them closely. The Gijón defence will be harder to break down without Messi, but it shouldn’t prove too much of a challenge. Therefore Barcelona should be able to win comfortably especially seen as Atlético scored five against them. However, the Barcelona defence isn’t looking strong due to Mascherano’s poor form, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Asturians score.