Madrid: FC Barcelona will be without top scorer and star player, Lionel Messi for their home match against Sporting Gijon in the Spanish Primera Liga.

Messi is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season in last Sunday's 2-1 win away to Atletico Madrid, meaning Barca coach Pep Guardiola will have to find a replacement for the player who has scored 28 league goals this season.

Pedro Rodriguez could be a possible solution, while young wingers Isaac Cuenca or Christian Tello might be given starts Saturday. Guardiola also has to make a change at left back with Eric Abidal out with a hip injury. Meanwhile Andres Iniesta will be in the side along with Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets, as reported.

Even without Messi, Barca are clear favourites at home to a Sporting side that is second from bottom in the league.Sporting's poor form recently saw Manuel Preciado sacked and former Spain coach Javier Clemente arrive at the club.

Clemente has inspired more steel into the Sporting back line and two draws in his first two matches in charge hints that Sporting will be a tough nut to crack.

(Agencies)