Abelardo last visited the Camp Nou when he was playing for Alavés / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Sporting Gijón are at the Camp Nou on Saturday (8.30am CET) for the first time since the 2011/12 season, the one when they last dropped down to Division Two. And they’re coming after a morale boosting won against Sevilla. But with just four games to go, they’re eighteenth in the league and just one point clear of the relegation. So they’re coming in need of points.

They are led by a familiar face to Barça fans. Manager Abelardo Fernández, now into his third season in charge in Gijón, spent eight years at the Camp Nou in his playing days, from 1994 to 2002.

Six times versus Barça at Camp Nou

This will be his first return to FC Barcelona as a visiting coach, although ‘Pitu’ did come here as an opposing player on six different occasions. When he was on the books at Sporting, he played five games at his future club, losing four and drawing the other.

In the first of those visits, which Barça won 2-0, the second goal was scored by current FCB technical secretary Robert Fernández. The only point the Asturians took away from the Camp Nou in that time was a 1-1 draw in the 1991/92 season.

After his successful period as a Barça player ended, Abelardo played out his career at Alavés in the 2002/03 season. When the Basques came to the Camp Nou, they were heavily routed to the tune of a  6-1 defeat, one of the home team’s goals scored by current manager Luis Enriquea.

Although this his first game at the Camp Nou as a visiting coach, it is not the first time Abelardo has managed Sporting against Barça. There was of course the Liga fixture earlier this season at El Molinón, which Barça won 3-1 with goals from Messi (2) and Luis Suárez

Luis Enrique and Abelardo take each other on when Alavés visited in the 2002/03 season / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

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