Javier Mascherano is ready to return to action when Sporting Gijon visit Barcelona this evening (1 March) in another decisive clash for their intense La Liga battle with Real Madrid. However, manager Luis Enrique has left Arda Turan and third keeper Jordi Masip out of his 18-man squad alongside injured duo Jeremy Mathieu and Aleix Vidal.
The Catalans host the relegation-threatened side in search for their fifth consecutive victory in La Liga as they try to keep the pressure on Real Madrid, being currently one point behind on the table, but with Los Blancos having still one game in hand.
Luis Enrique's side beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the weekend and a new victory over Sporting will see them moving to the top of the table temporally – as Real Madrid will face Las Palmas after the Catalans' game with the Asturians.
Barcelona options to revalidate La Liga title looked over some weeks ago but the defeat of Real Madrid at Valencia a fortnight ago has given them fresh hope ahead of the last 14 games of the season.
Luis Enrique could rest some key players against the 17th placed of La Liga as Barcelona have another complicated game with Celta Vigo on the weekend before their Champions League last 16 second leg with Paris Saint Germain.
Luis Enrique, however, has considered that the game against Sporting will still come too early for Turan despite the doctors giving the Turkish international the green light to return.
"Barça coach Luis Enrique Martínez announced his 18-man squad for the game against Sporting Gijón at Camp Nou (7.30pm CET) on Wednesday morning local time. 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 home-town club. Also missing are the injured Aleix Vidal and Jérémy Mathieu with Jordi Masip also left out," the club confirmed.