At the start of the season, few people included Sporting Gijón among their tips to win promotion to the First Division. The side based at El Molinón had a very limited budget and an extremely young squad to work with, but they gelled into a solid unit that teams found surprisingly hard to beat. Many wondered how long they would be able to hold onto their lofty position in the Second Division table, but they ended up going all the way, eventually securing promotion on the very last day with a 3-0 win at Betis coupled with Lugo’s injury time equaliser at Girona, the side who would otherwise have got promoted instead.
One of the main reasons for the successful campaign is a familiar face at the Camp Nou, Abelardo Fernández, who played in the Barça defence for 178 games between 1994 and 2002. For six of those years he was in the same squad as fellow Asturian and lifelong friend Luis Enrique Martínez.
Abelardo has guided Sporting back into the top flight after a three-year absence. One of the classic teams from Spanish football history, they have played FC Barcelona 82 times over the years. Barça have won 49 of those games, while there have been 16 draws and 17 wins for Gijón. Their last meeting was at the Camp Nou in 2012, a game the Catalans won 3-1 with goals from Iniesta, Keita and Xavi.