Barcelona hosts Sporting without Lionel Messi

JOSEPH WILSON Associated Press Published:

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Barcelona will have to overcome Lionel Messi's absence against Sporting Gijon on Saturday as it tries to keep its dwindling chances for a fourth straight Spanish league title alive.

With Real Madrid already 10 points clear at the top of the table, Messi's one-game suspension for having collected five yellow cards leaves coach Pep Guardiola without his top scorer in a front line already depleted by David Villa's broken leg.

The loss of the three-time world player of the year should open the door for Pedro Rodriguez to accompany Alexis Sanchez in attack.

Madrid hosts Espanyol on Saturday looking for its ninth straight league win and 12th win in 13 home games this season at Santiago Bernabeu stadium.