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Bayern Munich tops AP rankings for third straight week

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Associated Press
4/16/2013 12:12:40 PM
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MONACO -- Bayern Munich's players are used to scoring goals for fun, but this time it was the club netting a hat-trick as the German Bundesliga champion was voted the top team by the AP's panel of global football journalists for the third straight week.

Bayern has lost only one of its past 30 matches in all competitions, clinched the Bundesliga title in record time, and cruised into the Champions League semifinals.

Time to ease off last weekend?

Instead, Bayern thumped Nuremberg 4-0.

"Bayern Munich get my vote as the best club team of the week following a thoroughly convincing performance in Turin to defeat Juventus in the Champions League and following it up with their 4-0 victory," said Mike McGrath of of England's Sun newspaper and Wardles. "Pundits, and possibly UEFA organisers, may be hoping for an El Clasico Champions League final at Wembley next month but the German champions could have a big say."

With Lionel Messi nursing a sore hamstring, Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed the spotlight with four goals in two games and was voted top player of the week ahead of Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and a limping Messi, who helped Barcelona eliminate Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League.

Bayern collected 130 points from a possible 150; putting it comfortably ahead of Borussia Dortmund, which also reached the last four of the Champions League thanks to two dramatic late goals against Malaga and then thrashed Greuther Fuerth 6-1. Real Madrid was third on 109.

"I was very impressed (with) Dortmund's week, with the last-gasp qualification in Champions and the easy victory in the Bundesliga," said Paolo Condo of Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

Ronaldo easily won with 140 points, compared to 65 for Aguero and 57 for Messi.

Madrid found itself under pressure in the return leg of its Champions League quarterfinal against an inspired Galatasaray side, and Ronaldo soothed nerves with a late goal to add to his early effort, taking his tally to 11 in the competition.

He then again struck in each half in the 3-0 win at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday to reach 30 league goals for the third straight season.

"He is the top scorer in the Champions League. Two goals and an assist in La Liga. (Ronaldo) has perhaps never been so good," said Cedric Rouquette of Eurosport in France.

Although Messi did not score, his impact was still immense.

With Barca trailing 1-0 in the return leg and facing elimination, the superstar came off the bench and played a telling role in the equalizing goal that sent the four-time European champion through to the last four.

"Why Messi? Because, as someone said, even limping -- or lame -- he is the best player in the world," said Federico Giammaria of Argentinean newspaper La Voz. "(He) showed that he does not need to play the entire game or score a goal. The mere mention of his name stirs a deep and decisive fear in opponents."

Aguero was City's decisive player last season, scoring in the final seconds to steal the Premier League title from the grasp of crosstown rivals United, and the Argentine has started to find his best form again in recent weeks.

He followed up his winning goal in the league against United with another key strike to put City 2-0 up against Chelsea in their FA Cup semifinal on Sunday.

Meanwhile, striker Robin van Persie found his way back into the top 10 after ending his two-month goal drought with a penalty against Stoke as United took another step toward the league title.

Although manager Alex Ferguson was less than pleased when van Persie jumped into his arms at full speed.

AP Global Football Rankings for the week ending April 15.

Based on 15 voters, using 10 points for first, nine for second, one for bottom place. Previous rankings in parentheses.

Teams:

1. Bayern Munich, (1), 130 points.

2. Borussia Dortmund, (7), 111.

3. Real Madrid, (2), 109.

4. Barcelona, (3), 100.

5. Manchester City, (10), 90.

6. Manchester United, 40.

7. Paris St Germain,(4), 39.

8. Ajax, 28.

(tie) Sunderland, 28.

10. Atletico Madrid, 21.

(tie) Basel, 21.

(tie). Benfica (8), 21.

Players:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo, (3), 140 points.

2. Sergio Aguero, 65.

3. Lionel Messi, (11), 57.

4. Cristian Tello, 45.

5. Radamel Falcao, 41.

6. Robert Lewandowski, 37.

7. Mario Gotze, 35.

8. Yaya Toure, 24.

9 Thiago Alcantara, 21.

(tie).Christian Erikson, 21.

Shaqiri and Van Buyten (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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