Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League

Fernandinho’s return could give Man City huge boost ahead of Barcelona clash

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He may not be the most glamorous player adorning Manchester City’s star-studded roster, but many would argue he’s the most important.

Defensive midfielder Fernandinho has been badly missed from the heart of City’s midfield since he was injured back in January. The 28-year-old suffered a thigh injury, and has missed the last three games which has seen City go on a bit of a wobble.

But on Monday the former Shakhtar Donetsk star trained with the rest of City’s squad at the Etihad Stadium, ahead of Tuesday’s massive UEFA Champions League clash against Barcelona and he will be in the squad of 18 for the home tie against City’s Spanish opponents.

If Fernandinho does start in the first leg of the eagerly-anticipated last 16 tie, City’s chances of progressing could increase considerably.

(MORE: Pellegrini: “I don’t have any fear about facing Barcelona”)

When the Brazilian midfielder has been missing this season, City have failed to score in four of five PL games as 64 of City’s 68 goals have come in his 20 starts. His absence isn’t the only reason City have failed to score in their last two PL games, but he does play a massive part in the City machine, as Fernandinho breaks up play and tidies up the midfield with ease as his terrific engine allows him to motor around the center of the pitch and win back possession for Manuel Pellegrini’s team.

That will be key against Barca’s midfield trio of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta and Sergio Busquets who often dominate possession and are allowed to feed the likes Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro. If Fernandinho does return to City’s lineup on Tuesday, his main job will be to cut off that supply line and win the ball back so City can attack.

(MORE: Convincing results show La Liga trio ready for UEFA Champions League)

He is unselfish and does the dirty work that allows the likes of Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas, Alvaro  Negredo, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure to pile forward and score the shed load of goals which City have done to devastating effect this season. They are already way past the 100 marker and counting, and despite not scoring many Fernandinho is key to that.

Against Barcelona on Tuesday, City will be missing their top goalscorer Aguero. But having Fernandinho back fit and ready to roll is arguably even more important than having Aguero on the pitch. That’s saying something.

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.

Man United captain Rooney raises $1.5m from charity game

FILE - A Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 file photo of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney leaving the field after the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) for charity from a friendly game against former club Everton last year. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.

That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”

Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.

Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.

WATCH: Lewandowski’s juggling stoppage time winner

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the German soccer Bundesliga match between SC Freiburg and FC Bayern Munich in Freiburg, Germany, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Patrick Seeger/dpa via AP)
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Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.

The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.

[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]

And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.

It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.

Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.

Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday