Posted: Tuesday December 4, 2012 4:45 PM

Peerless Messi stays on top in AP soccer rankings

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LONDON (AP) - Edging closer to a world record for goals in a year, Lionel Messi remains at the top of the AP Global Soccer rankings.

The Argentina forward was the overwhelming choice as best player of the week by The Associated Press' panel of 19 global soccer journalists. He earned 161 of a possible 190 points.

His two goals against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league helped Barcelona to a 5-1 win on Saturday, keeping the Catalan club at the top of the team rankings with 155 points.

Messi is only one goal from matching German great Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old 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.''

Added Cedric Rouquette of Eurosport: "Messi continues to walk on water.''

Cristiano Ronaldo shone for Real Madrid in the game against Atletico Madrid, scoring on a free kick and setting up Mesut Oezil's goal in a 2-0 win. Ronaldo re-entered the top 10 of the player rankings at No. 2 (132 points) after a two-week absence.

Madrid was 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 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 scored 50 percent 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. 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 4-3 win at Reading, where all seven goals came in the first half.

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

Bafetimbi Gomis scored four goals in a week for Lyon in Ligue 1, drawing 46 points for seventh place. Lyon is two points ahead 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.

Also in 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; Marko Arnautovic scored a hat trick for Werder Bremen against Hoffenheim.

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.

The Galaxy climbed to a share of eighth in the team rankings with 46 points, but Beckham came in 12th.

"David Beckham, honor 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 pair of goals for Velez Sarsfield in a 2-0 win against Union won the team the championship.

"With 11 goals in 14 games, Ferreyra has had a magnificent impact on Velez,'' said Aurelio Capaldi of RAI Sport in Italy.

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AP Global Soccer 10 Rankings for week ending Dec 3

(Previous week's rankings in parentheses)

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. Edinson Cavani, 38.

8. Mario Gotze (5), 38.

10. Marko Arnautovic, 33.

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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. L.A. Galaxy, 46.

8. Velez Sarsfield, 46.

10. Bayern Munich(2), 39.

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Based on 19 voters, using 10 points for No. 1 to 1 point for last place.

 
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