Monday, August 31, 2009

Barcelona vs Sporting Gijon live



Sporting Gijon

Monday 31st August 2009
Venue: Camp Nou
Kick-off: 21:00

Watch live on SUPER SPORTS3

Barca look to start on right track

Barcelona begin their pursuit of a second successive league title and continue their quest for an unprecedented six trophies in one season when they host Sporting Gijon in their Primera Liga opener at the Nou Camp on Monday night.

The Catalans sealed an historic treble of league, Copa del Rey and Champions League last season in what was former captain Pep Guardiola's first campaign as coach.

And they have picked up where they left off last season, immediately adding the Spanish and European Supercups to their trophy cabinet, meaning Guardiola has competed for five titles as Barca coach and won them all so far.

The last of those came on Friday, when Pedro's extra-time strike gave the Catalans a 1-0 win over Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in the European Supercup in Monaco.

And Barcelona not only returned from the principality with a second trophy of the season, but also sealed the capture of Shakhtar captain Dmytro Chygrynskiy, who played his last game for the Ukrainians that night.

The timing of that match meant Barca's league opener was put back.

Central defender Chygrynskiy will be presented to the crowd before the game against Sporting, but is unlikely to feature in the league opener.

Following the Supercup win, Barcelona captain Carles Puyol claimed his side were one of the all time greats.

"We are one of the best teams in the history of Barca," he said on Friday night, after lifting a fifth trophy in the space of three months.

But Chygrynskiy believes Barca can get even better.

"I want to keep growing and form part of this great team, which I believe can get even better," he said.

As well as the two Supercups they have already won, the Catalans will seek to retain the league, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles they claimed last season, as well as the World Club Championship - a trophy they are yet to win - later this year.

But first comes the league and following the huge investment made by fierce rivals Real Madrid, this is one of the most eagerly-awaited title races in years.

However, defender Gerard Pique says Barcelona are not thinking about Madrid, but focusing on themselves instead.

"We won the treble last season, yet everybody is talking about Madrid," he said earlier this week.

"But it doesn't bother us, we are focused on our own game and we have everything to be confident about," he added.

Barca will be without Lionel Messi after the Argentina winger flew home to prepare for his nation's key World Cup qualifying matches against Brazil and Paraguay.

His compatriot Gabi Milito - who has yet to feature under Guardiola - is still sidelined with a long-term injury and will miss out again.

Andres Iniesta and Rafael Marquez could return, though, after recovering from their respective injuries.

Sporting, meanwhile, are preparing for their second season back in the top flight.

The northerners finished in 14th place last season, with 43 points, and survival will be the objective once again for Manuel Preciado's side.

Preciado will opt for a defensive-minded formation in an attempt to stifle the champions.

"Two up front would be suicide. We will go there to battle and defend, but we're not afraid. Anything can happen in football," he said.

Ivan Cuellar, Sergio Matabuena, Carmelo Gonzalez, Ivan Hernandez and Luis Moran are all out, and that may force Preciado to include all five of his summer signings in the starting line-up on Monday.