Mascherano returns to Barcelona squad as Arda misses out


Javier Mascherano is set to make his Barcelona comeback in Wednesday’s LaLiga encounter with Sporting Gijon after a three-week spell on the sidelines due to injury.

The Argentine last featured in the 1-1 Copa del Rey draw with Atletico Madrid on February 7 and has been out of action since then with an Achilles problem.

Mascherano has now been given the green light to return and has been included in Luis Enrique’s 18-man squad for the game against Sporting Gijon.

Arda Turan, meanwhile, has also received the medical all-clear after a spell on the sidelines due to injury, but has not made the squad.

[SQUAD] @Mascherano returns to 18 man list for #FCBSporting – find out who else has been named https://t.co/MV5fLGxo5s

#ForçaBarça pic.twitter.com/jMC5Qck4I9

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 1, 2017

“Barca coach Luis Enrique announced his 18 man squad for the game against Sporting Gijon at Camp Nou on Wednesday morning,” a statement on the club’s website reads.

“The big news is the return of Javier Mascherano to the list after injury.

“Arda Turan has also been given the medical all clear but is not amongst the names given out by the Asturian coach for the game against his hometown club.

“Also missing are the injured Aleix Vidal and Jeremy Mathieu with Jordi Masip also left out.”

Wizkid Releases “Sweet Love” Snippet

Star Boy Entertainment front man “Wizkid ” hints on what to expect from him as a gift for the new month.

He tags the new month the month of sweet love with the coming tune!

We can not calm down!!! Watch Snippet as tweeted by him few minutes ago

Senate to hold confirmation hearing for acting CJN on Wednesday

The senate will conduct a confirmation hearing for Walter Onnoghen, acting chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), on Wednesday. Senate President Bukola Saraki, who announced this on the floor of the upper legislative chamber, on Tuesday, said the exercise would take place at 11am.

Last Tuesday, Saraki read a letter from Acting President Yemi Osinbajo requesting the confirmation of Onnoghen as CJN. Onnoghen has been acting CJN since November 10, 2016 when Mahmud Mohammed, his predecessor, retired.

A controversy had brewed over President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in sending his name to the senate for confirmation as CJN. But the tension was doused when news that the president had asked the senate to confirm him filtered in. Onnoghen’s tenure as acting CJN was due to elapse on February 10, but it was only two days before the time that the presidency communicated to the upper legislative chamber on his confirmation.

However, the senate could not consider the request because it was on a three-week recess. The National Judicial Council (NJC), which had nominated Onnoghen for the position, re-nominated him on February 9 – a day before the expiration of his three-month tenure. Onnoghen is from Cross River state. He is the only CJN from the south in 30 years.

Allegri wants more intensity from Juventus despite Coppa win

Massimiliano Allegri believes there is still more to come from Juventus, with the coach demanding greater intensity from his side despite the Serie A leaders putting one foot in the Coppa Italia final with Tuesday’s 3-1 first-leg defeat of Napoli.

The holders came from behind to take control of the tie, with a pair of controversial Paulo Dybala penalties and a Gonzalo Higuain goal against his old club putting Juve in a dominant position after they recovered from Jose Callejon’s superbly crafted opener.

Juve are now in a strong position to win the league and cup double for the third year in a row, but Allegri felt his side were below-par in the first half, when they fell behind to Napoli for the first time at Juventus Stadium, while using a back three.

“In the first half more than having the wrong system, we made too many mistakes in our passing, but nonetheless had plenty of chances and allowed Napoli very little,” Allegri told Rai Sport.

“The first half was bad on a technical level, the second was much better. I don’t think we played badly with three at the back, we must made too many mistakes in our passing, but it went very well after the break.

“I have to compliment the entire squad, as they played a fine second half and managed to come back despite going a goal down.

“Napoli are always dangerous and we finished the game on a high, so this bodes well for the future. I think we can improve a great deal in terms of intensity.

“I particularly wish to compliment Miralem Pjanic, someone who has really improved.”

Napoli were left to lament arguable penalty decisions made by referee Paulo Valeri, with goalkeeper Pepe Reina particularly frustrated by the official’s calls, which included a spot-kick against him for bringing down Juan Cuadrado despite getting a touch on the ball.

“We had a good first half, made Juve split apart and did our work,” Reina told Rai Sport. “With the second-half incidents, everything changed. The result changed because of the referee’s decisions. That is all.

“What am I supposed to do, disappear? If a player gets the ball, he gets the ball, end of story. Are players not supposed to touch the ball anymore? In my view, I moved the ball, so he either had to jump or get out of the way. In my view, people aren’t talking enough about the penalty on [Raul] Albiol.

“That incident was definitely more of a penalty than the Cuadrado one. We must certainly learn and improve and play a better second half, but I am absolutely furious. It’s not fair. The final result was changed by the refereeing decisions. That is all you can say.

Guti: I hope Barcelona eliminate PSG

Real Madrid great Guti revealed he wanted Barcelona to stage a remarkable comeback to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Luis Enrique’s men are on the verge of a last-16 exit, trailing 4-0 on aggregate ahead of the second leg at Camp Nou on March 8.

But Guti, a Madrid great who won five LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues with the club, hopes to see a comeback.

And the Madrid youth coach would also like to see Barca defender Gerard Pique, outspoken in his criticism of Real, be the hero.

“I want Barcelona to come back against PSG in the Champions League that way they won’t be able to focus on LaLiga as much,” he told El Chiringuito.

“I want Pique to score the fifth goal because he deserves it, he is the only one facing the situation head on, despite getting criticised by all sides.”

Madrid are in control of their Champions League tie after a 3-1 win over Napoli in the first leg.

They are also a point clear of Barcelona atop LaLiga, and have a game in hand.

Keown: I wish Ibrahimovic joined Arsenal

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown still laments Zlatan Ibrahimovic not joining the Premier League club in 2000.

Ibrahimovic, now starring at Manchester United, was once offered a trial by Arsene Wenger, but rejected it as insulting.

Keown, who was at Arsenal at the time and won three league titles with the club, rued the fact the Swede opted against making the move.

“I regret that Zlatan Ibrahimovic never joined Arsenal,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.

“He visited the club in 2000 as a teenager and such was his physique and frame my team-mates joked that the Swede was coming to take my place at centre-back.

“Even then you could see Ibrahimovic had such a big presence. Now that he is thriving at Manchester United, the comparisons with Eric Cantona are inevitable.”

Ibrahimovic has gone on to enjoy a trophy-laden career at the likes of Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and now United.

The striker led United to an EFL Cup success on Sunday, scoring a brace – including the match-winner – to take his tally to 26 goals in 38 matches in all competitions this season.

Keown said the comparisons to Cantona, a United great in the 1990s, were warranted.

“I man-marked Cantona for England against France and for Everton when he was at Leeds,” he wrote.

“Although Cantona was an intelligent player, I never felt he was going to run away from me. When I could lock on to him, I knew I could deal with him.

“In a one-against-one situation Ibrahimovic has more. He is bigger, stronger and more powerful.

“Cantona unlocked the door for United’s success in his five seasons at the club. He will always be considered The King, but Ibrahimovic is helping to rescue United’s reputation and make them great again.”