Monthly Archives: March 2018

Higuain recalled but Dybala and Icardi snubbed from Argentina squad

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Argentina national coach Jorge Sampaoli has recalled Gonzalo Higuain to the Argentina squad for this month’s friendlies against Italy and Spain but has snubbed Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi.

Higuain, 30, is sidelined with an ankle problem and is a doubt for Juventus’ vital Champions League clash with Tottenham next week. However, his 14 Serie A goals this season is enough to persuade Sampaoli to select the striker for the first time since September.

On the other hand, Higuain’s Juve team-mate Dybala misses out alongside Icardi, the Inter captain who has only scored once since the turn of the year.

Dybala has only made a pair of substitute appearances recently since returning from a hamstring injury.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has been, like Higuain, dropped earlier this season — reflecting the considerable strength Sampaoli enjoys in forward positions, but his prolific recent run for Manchester City made the 29-year-old a safe selection this time around.

As yet uncapped Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero, 36, has been called up alongside Sergio Romero and Nahuel Guzman.

Argentina squad in full: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Willy Caballero (Chelsea); Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Federico Fazio (Roma), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla) Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton), Marcos Acuna (Sporting CP), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica) Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax); Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Leandro Paredes (Zenit), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain) Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain); Diego Perotti (Roma) Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)

Man City dazzles again with second beatdown of Arsenal in a week

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Manchester City produced another brilliant performance to beat Arsenal by 3-0 for the second time in five days and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 16 points.

City, who won their first title under Pep Guardiola by dominating Arsenal in the League Cup final last Sunday met a more challenging Gunners team as Aaron Ramsey cut back a cross that hit Vincent Kompany and forced Ederson into a smart save while Henrikh Mkhitaryan also worked the City goalkeeper.

However, Arsenal’s confidence in the game was short lift as Leroy Sane sped past three Arsenal players before finding Bernardo Silva on the right, who finished with a beautiful curling effort into the far corner.

Sane then contributed again for City in the buildup of the Blues’ second as he ran down the left before squaring to Sergio Aguero, who touched through for David Silva to fire high inside Petr Cech’s near post.

The German international then got his goal, which came at the end of a flowing move with Kyle Walker squaring to him from in behind the left side of Arsenal’s defence.

With a 16 point-gap against closest challengers Manchester United, City now need just five wins from ten 10 games to secure a third Premier League title in seven years, and their first title under Guardiola.

“Mentally we were strong. We were clinical. We scored three outstanding goals,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach said. “It is never easy if you are not focused against teams like Arsenal. We were (focused) and so far we make an amazing Premier League season.”

“We are out of the FA Cup and we have won the League Cup. Now it’s just two competitions, and you fight for one of them for 10 months. These are the last steps to be champions; you keep going until the end. We have to win five games. We don’t think too much — now we play Chelsea.”

“Hopefully we have the desire to win, to be the best team in England.”

City could win the title in a little over a month when they face their city rivals on 7 April, and if they were to win the title that weekend it would be the earliest the Premier League title has ever been won.

FC Barcelona held after “invisible penalty” awarded to Las Palmas

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Jonathan Calleri’s controversial penalty helped lowly Las Palmas hold La Liga leaders Barcelona by 1-1 in the Gran Canaria.

The draw maintains Barca five points above their next opponents, Atletico Madrid, while extending the Catalan club-record unbeaten league run to 33 games.

Lionel Messi had fired a free-kick into the opposite corner of the net to give Barcelona the lead.

But 3 minutes after half-time, Calleri’s excellent converted his penalty into the top corner to rescue a point for the Canary Island hosts.

There had been plenty of confusion at the decision to award the penalty to Las Palmas, who remain in the relegation zone, with the most likely reason being for a Sergi Roberto foul on Matias Aguirregaray — although the ball also hit Lucas Digne’s hand.

“The penalty came as a shock to us because of how it was awarded,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde after the game. “We felt that they equalised with an ‘invisible’ penalty. They grew stronger after that and we played in too much of a hurry.”

“We really wanted to leave here with three points. In the first half we felt we were always creating danger and their players kept on picking up yellow cards. We went ahead in the first half but it was not a big enough margin.”

Atletico Madrid was the only team of the top four sides in La Liga to win their midweek fixtures, with Antoine Griezmann scoring all the goals in a 4-0 win over Leganes.