Adriano against Sporting / Photo: Miguel Ruiz - FCB


Founded in 1905, Sporting made their debut in the first division 39 years later and since then
have enjoyed a number of extended periods amongst the elite teams, most notably from the
late seventies until 1998, which saw them finish as runners up in 1979. During that time, they
produced two great teams: the first based around the soon-to-be Barça legend Quini and the
second in the late eighties featuring Luis Enrique and Abelardo. The club just managed to avoid
relegation in 1995 by beating Lleida in a relegation play off, but finally went down three years
later. The second division proved a hard place to get out of and economic difficulties also hit
the club, forcing them to sell one of their best young players, David Villa, to Zaragoza in 2003,
before getting promotion in 2008. Last season Sporting made a terrible start to the campaign,
but an inspired second half to the season saw them finish 10th.


Quini, Luis Enrique, Abelardo, David Villa….there is a long history of links between the two
clubs, with all those four ex-Sporting players becoming big favourites at the Camp Nou.
However, Barça haven’t been such welcoming guests for the Gijón team, who have
managed just one win in their 40 league visits to the stadium and also lost one of their two
Spanish Cup finals to Barça – 3-1 in 1981, with Quini grabbing two goals against his old club.


Javier Clemente was brought in to save Sporting from the drop, when the much admired
Manolo Preciado was sacked earlier this year and if experience is what the Sporting directors
were looking for, they couldn’t have picked a better man for the job. Clemente won two
league titles with Athletic Club in the early eighties before moving on to manage, amongst others, Espanyol, Atlético Madrid, Betis and the Spanish, Serbian and Cameroon national teams.


It’s been a hard season for Sporting, who currently lie next to bottom and six points from
safety. They’ve won just once since Christmas, but lost just once in the four games they played
in February, drawing the other three. On the road, Sporting have won only two games – at
Mallorca and Rayo and lost on four of their last trips away from El Molinon.


Sporting’s leading scorer this season is their captain David Barral with eight goals. The Cadiz
born forward has been at the club since 2006 and in April 2009 he scored Sporting’s 1,000th
goal at El Molinon. He put in a fine performance, including a first half goal in last weekend’s
game in Santander and represents Sporting’s main threat to the Barça defence on Saturday.

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