Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Colinas; Soto, Botia, Canella, Ramos; Castro, Rivera, Barral, Nacho Novo, Ayoze, Cuevas
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Abidal; Cesc, Xavi, Keita; Messi, Villa, Pedro
Sporting have just a point after five rounds – certainly not a position any manager will want to be in. Manuel Preciado, the eccentric man, who ruined Jose Mourinho’s 9-year long unbeaten home run last season, isn’t someone who is going to take the ignominy of languishing at the bottom of the table for long. Perhaps this isn’t the right time for them to welcome the Catalans, but an upset is equally likely at the Molinón. Gijon have lost key personnel in Jose Angel (AS Roma), Sergio Matabuena (Valladolid), Diego Castro (Getafe), Rafael Sastre (Huesca) et al. Nonetheless, they have also made few acquisitions and from the current trend, it’s apparent that the changes haven’t gone down well with the Asturians.
With ten goals in the last two games, Barcelona travel to Molinón high on confidence. However, everything isn’t rosy for the Camp Nou outfit. Talismanic captain Carles Puyol has succumbed to yet another injury. Discomfort in his right thigh might just rule him out of the away-tie against Gijon. Meanwhile Alexis Sanchez continues to recuperate at home, in Chile, and Iniesta has finally resumed training, but is still unlikely for the match. Dutch winger, Ibrahim Afellay will go under the blade for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee coming Monday. Pique finally seems to have shrugged off his injury and is available for the match. With him in defense, Mascherano is expected to begin. The Argentine international has settled to the Barcelona style of play and is a dependable fix to Barca’s injury plagued defense. Dani Alves and Eric Abidal are expected to begin on either side of the centre.