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Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Barcelona jets in for a day to beat South African champs

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes scored as Barcelona beat South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 on Wednesday in a friendly marking 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela.

[ PL TOP 10: GKs and backs | Mids and fwds ]

Lionel Messi didn’t start the game at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg but drew a roar from the crowd as big as any other on the night when he got up off the bench and started to warm up 20 minutes into the second half. He came on for the last 15 minutes. Andres Iniesta did start in his return to the stadium where he won the World Cup for Spain in 2010.

Dembele, Suarez and Gomes all took advantage of defensive errors, with Dembele curling a left-foot shot into net in the third minute and Suarez doubling the lead in the 18th minute. Gomes added the third in the 66th.

Sibusiso Vilakazi scored Sundowns’ goal late on but the Spanish champions were in cruise control against the South African league winner. Barcelona returns home to play its last game of the Spanish season on Sunday against Real Sociedad, Iniesta’s farewell match after 22 years at Barcelona.

Messi: It would be ‘terrible’ to see Neymar at Real Madrid

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Barcelona star Lionel Messi says it would be “terrible” to see his friend and former teammate Neymar signing for Real Madrid.

Messi told TyC Sports on Tuesday that “it would be terrible, for all that Ney means to Barcelona.”

[ MORE: How did U.S. players fare in PL? ]

He added that “it is OK that he went the way he did, he won an important title here, he won the Champions League, won the Spanish league. But to end in Real Madrid would be a hard blow for us and for Barcelona fans.”

Neymar, who is recovering from a foot surgery after an injury in February, left Barcelona last summer after Paris Saint-Germain paid a record transfer fee of 222 million euros. But he has been linked with a move to Madrid this summer after just one year in France.

Barcelona two results from first unbeaten La Liga season

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Barcelona moved to within two matches of an unbeaten league season with a 5-1 blasting of Villarreal at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Barca, who drew Real Madrid at the weekend, finishes at Levante and home to Real Sociedad. They have 27 wins and nine draws, and lead second place Atletico Madrid by 15 points.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 1-1 Huddersfield ]

No La Liga team has gone unbeaten in a season lasting longer than 18 matches.

Ousmane Dembele scored twice, while Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, and Paulinho also scored in the blowout.

Messi’s goal was one of our last chances to see the Andres Iniesta to Messi connection in action.

Dembele now has three goals and five assists in his last 10 matches after a dreadful start to life in La Liga.

And he’s showing exactly why Barca was willing to pay big to pry him from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.

10-man Barca keep unbeaten season going with El Clasico draw

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Barcelona cleared the final major hurdle in their quest to become the first La Liga side to finish the league campaign in unbeaten fashion, drawing UEFA Champions League finalists Real Madrid, 2-2, in the final El Clasico of the 2017-18 season on Sunday… barely.

[ MORE: Wenger speaks, bids farewell to Emirates after final home game ]

It was a dream start for Ernesto Valverde’s side, which entered Sunday’s showdown unbeaten through the first 35 games of the league season (42 straight dating back to last season), courtesy of Luis Suarez’s 10th-minute opener. Sergi Roberto — more on him in a moment — delivered the perfect cross to the back post and Suarez hammered his first-time finish past Keylor Navas (WATCH HERE).

The lead lasted just five minutes, though, as Cristian Ronaldo started — and finished — a free-flowing piece of play into Barca’s penalty area (WATCH HERE). Ronaldo would be forced off at halftime, due to what the club called a minor ankle sprain. He is expected to be fully fit and available for the May 26 UCL final against Liverpool.

Back to Roberto, though, who was goaded, by Marcelo — who else? — into a moment of madness seconds before halftime. After an instance of innocuous shoulder-to-shoulder contact, it was Roberto who gave Marcelo a slap to the face — or, at the very least, appeared to intend to do so — on the edge of the penalty area. Even without the benefit of video review (VAR will arrive in La Liga next season), it was spotted by the referee and Roberto was off.

[ MORE: Guardiola jovial after Man City lift PL trophy ]

Down a man, Lionel Messi scored a typically brilliant goal seven minutes into the second half, weaving past three defenders atop the penalty area before uncorking a pinpoint curler through traffic and just inside Navas’s right-hand post.

The lead lasted 20 minutes, until Gareth Bale drew Los Blancos level once again with a stunning, curling, first-time streak from just outside the box. The ball forward from Marco Asensio hit the Welshman in stride, and Bale put it where no goalkeeper in the world could get it.

[ MORE: Klopp admits Champions League run taking toll on Liverpool ]

Barca’s remaining schedule reads as follows: vs. Villarreal (6th place), at Levante (17th), and vs. Real Sociedad (11th).