Second from top will play hosts to second from the bottom this weekend when Barcelona welcome Sporting Gijon to the Camp Nou as heavy odds on favourites with Bet365, but they will have to make do without their talisman Lionel Mesi, who is banned.
Despite Real Madrid’s substantial gap at the top of the table, Barça will still be keen to claw back some of their goal difference league this weekend with a sound victory over relegation zone Gijon.
Los Rojiblancos currently sit in 18th place and are six points from safety heading into the fixture, giving the underdogs incentive of their own to run out a surprise victory this weekend.
Bearing this in mind however, mental fortitude can only do so much and when looking at the statistics, Barcelona appear as clear victors.
The Spanish giants hold the best home attack in the league this season, averaging over four goals per game when playing at the Nou Camp but they will be without Lionel Messi, who is banned after picking up his fifth booking of the season in their win at Atletico Madrid last Sunday.
Pep Guardiola could bring in Pedro Rodriguez, Isaac Cuenca or Christian Tello, while left back Eric Abidal will also be missing through injury.
On the other hand, Sporting Gijon have the worst away record in the Spanish top flight, conceding 2.58 goals per game on average, which has seen Manuel Preciado leave his post as team manager and Javier Clemente take over the reigns.
For this reason, Pep Guardiola can be confident that his side will be able to shove Gijon to one side as they wait in the wings hoping for Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side to slip up.
One comfort that Javier Clemente’s Sporting Gijon can take going into the clash is that Barcelona may look upon the statistics as we have and rest some of their key players with Wednesday’s second-leg Champions League fixture against Bayer Leverkusen fixed firmly in their sights.
It isn’t realistically possible for Sporting to make their way out of the drop zone this weekend unless they can win with a twelve-goal advantage over Barcelona but that won’t stop the La Liga outfit from hoping as they look to attain survival in the Spanish top flight.