Once again, the public will expect a one-sided affair. Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona look to have found the keys to open the floodgates.
The Catalans, who will open their La Liga campaign as favorites to win the trophy for another time, may have got quite an advantageous opening fixture.
Good memories for Barcelona
Pep Guardiola was under pressure from the media last season after his side had lost their first league game against Numancia and drawn the second against Racing Santander. Questions quickly began surrounding the former Barcelona skipper over his ability to manage a senior side. But then, all the critics suddenly faltered when the tables turned round in the camp of the Catalans.
Barcelona, who are presently regarded as the best team in Europe and in the world, are known best to humiliate opponents with their frequent passing of the ball and with their flurry of goals. But since when did the Blaugrana earthed this terrific style of play?
It takes us back to last year when Lionel Messi, Xavi, Eto’o and the rest powered Barcelona to a massive 6-1 victory to inscribe the biggest score line of the week and boost their goal difference. Ironically, the victims of this emphatic win were Sporting Gijon.
On paper, the Catalans are way favorites to win Monday’s encounter at the Camp Nou. Analytically, Sporting Gijon have slim chances to spark up an upset.
Perhaps they may capitalize on the fatigue of their opponents Barcelona who would have played three matches in the space of 9 days, by then.
Either way, Pep Guardiola may not accept any excuses come Monday. The young manager will want to see his men build on the same foundation that they laid last season in order to achieve success again.
The biggest curiosity will be around Ibrahimovic. The former Inter Milan striker will certainly be granted his first ever appearance in the Spanish La Liga. However, Lionel Messi is expected to miss this game after being given the permission to play in the World Cup qualifiers for his country early next month.
As much as soccer is an unpredictable game, it is a possibility that Barcelona will stumble in their opening La Liga fixture for the third consecutive year. A negative result from a Blaugrana point of view may be improbable, but if such a case really occurs, then it will definitely come at the benefit of this summer’s big-money spenders Real Madrid.