Soccer

Messi stays on top of AP Global Soccer rankings

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Associated Press
12/4/2012 12:10:56 PM
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LONDON -- Edging closer to a world-record goal tally, Lionel Messi has retained his place at the top of the AP Global Football rankings this week.

The Argentina forward was the overwhelming choice of best player by The Associated Press' panel of 19 global football journalists, earning 161 out of a possible 190 points after his two goals against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league.

Messi's brace helped Barcelona to a 5-1 win on Saturday, which keeps the Catalan club top of the team rankings with 155 points.

Messi is only one goal away from matching German great Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old goalscoring record of 85 goals in a calendar year.

"Another week, another two Lionel Messi goals and another Barcelona win." said Mike McGrath, of Wardles news agency and The Sun. "It is now only a matter of when Messi will break Mueller's record, rather than if."

Cedric Rouquette of Eurosport was also generous in his praise of the diminutive Argentine, adding: "Messi continues to walk on water."

La Liga and Ballon d'Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo shone for Real Madrid in the derby match against Atletico Madrid, scoring a free kick and setting up Mesut Oezil's goal in a 2-0 win.

Ronaldo's efforts see him re-enter the top 10 of the player rankings at second, after a two-week absence, with 132 points.

"Cristiano Ronaldo managed a great goal in the derby game after three matches without scoring," said Orfeo Suarez, of Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Madrid came second in the rankings, too, with 129 points after reducing the gap to its city rival in the league to five points and keeping Atletico -- and its star striker Radamel Falcao -- scoreless for only the second time this season.

AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy's double strike against Catania was enough to put him into third place with 91 points. The young Italy international has now scored 50 per cent of Milan's goals.

Juventus was third in the team list with 101 points and had Claudio Marchisio largely to thank for its 3-0 win over Torino in the Turin derby. The midfielder scored twice, earning him fourth place in the player list with 80 points.

"Marchisio probably would have been No. 1 in a lot of other weeks with two goals and an assist," said Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Even with an adjustment for playing against a 10-man Torino squad."

Manchester United (fourth) and Wayne Rooney (fifth) also figured prominently this week after the team's exciting 4-3 win at Reading, where all seven goals were scored in the first half.

In the player list, Michu makes his first appearance in the top 10 after grabbing both of Swansea's goal in a 2-0 win over Arsenal, putting the Spanish forward joint top of the Premier League's scorers' chart with 10. Michu was a 2 million pound ($3.2 million) signing in the off-season and is proving great value for money.

Bafetimbi Gomis scored four goals in a week for Lyon in Ligue 1 to win 46 points for seventh place. Lyon is now two points clear of Marseille in the league and five ahead of big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, earning fifth spot in AP's team list.

"Considering the power of PSG, what Lyon are doing in Ligue 1 is incredible," said Paolo Condo of Gazzetta dello Sport of Italy.

PSG lost to Nice and drew 0-0 to St. Etienne, contributing to Zlatan Ibrahimovic -- second in last week's results -- falling out of the top 10.

Napoli striker Edinson Cavani found the net twice against Pescara in a 5-1 win, Mario Goetze's goal earned Dortmund a point from a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich, and Marko Arnautovic scored a hat trick for Werder Bremen against Hoffenheim, earning their places in the top 10.

Napoli's pursuit of Serie A leader Juventus means it is sixth in the rankings with 68 points. Bayern Munich dropped from second to 10th after its draw.

Playing what is likely to be his last game in the United States, David Beckham couldn't quite make the top 10 after starring in the Los Angeles Galaxy's title-winning 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup final.

Galaxy climbed to joint-eighth in the team rankings with 46 points, but Beckham came 12th.

"David Beckham, honour to a great player, a great sportsman, an icon of sports and marketing." said William Vissers of Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

Over in Argentina, the league looks to have a new star in 21-year-old Facundo 'Chucky' Ferreyra, whose double for Velez Sarsfield in a 2-0 win against Union won the team the championship.

"The new idol of the fans who got his revenge after a huge disappointment with his former club Banfield, relegated five months ago," said Aurelio Capaldi, of RAI Sport in Italy. "With 11 goals in 14 games, Ferreyra has had a magnificent impact on Velez."

AP Global Soccer 10 Rankings for week ending Dec 3

(Previous week's rankings in brackets)

Players

1. Lionel Messi (1), 161 points.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, 132.

3. Stefan El Shaarawy, 91.

4. Claudio Marchisio, 80.

5. Wayne Rooney, 67.

6. Michu, 61.

7. Bafetimbi Gomis, 46.

8(equals). Edinson Cavani, 38.

8(equals) Mario Gotze (5), 38.

10. Marko Arnautovic, 33.

Teams

1. Barcelona (1), 155 points.

2. Real Madrid, 129.

3. Juventus, 101.

4. Manchester United (7), 80.

5. Lyon, 68.

6. Naples, 58.

7. Swansea, 48.

8(equals). L.A. Galaxy, 46.

8(equals). Velez Sarsfield, 46.

10. Bayern Munich(2), 39.

Based on 19 voters, using 10 points for top to 1 point for bottom place.

Lionel Messi (Photo: VI-Images/VI-Images via Getty Images)

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(Photo: VI-Images/VI-Images via Getty Images)
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