Ronaldo tops AP rankings, Barca is top team
LONDON (AP) - Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo emerged from the shadow of Lionel Messi to top this week's Associated Press Global Soccer Rankings.
The Portuguese forward's hat trick against Sevilla was not enough to prevent Barcelona returning to the top of the AP's team rankings, with the Spanish league leader scoring six.
Soeren-Mikael Hansen of Denmark's Politiken newspaper said the hat trick was a message to Ronaldo's old team.
"Even though Barcelona performed best as a team, Cristiano Ronaldo must take the top spot individually,'' said Hansen. "Scoring three goals sent a serious warning to United.''
Ronaldo, who faces Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday, received 183 points out of a possible 200 in the poll of 20 global soccer journalists.
A Barcelona player was in second position, but it was midfielder Andres Iniesta and not Messi. Iniesta earned 101 points for his dominant performance in the 6-1 victory over Getafe.
Messi was fourth with 87 points, finishing behind Tottenham's Gareth Bale, who scored both goals in the 2-1 English Premier League victory over Newcastle on Sunday. Bale was just three points behind Iniesta.
"Gareth Bale is becoming more and more important for Tottenham,'' said panelist Aurelio Capaldi of broadcaster RAI Sport. "His double against Newcastle was decisive for Spurs and the Welshman has become one of the symbols of the Premier League. He often looks unstoppable and is the man every top club is dreaming to have on the left side.''
Son Heung-Min of Hamburg became the first South Korean player to feature in the AP top 10 since it launched last year, earning seventh place after the 20-year-old scored twice in his team's 4-1 Bundesliga win over second-placed Borussia Dortmund.
"Linked with several Premier League clubs during the January transfer window, Son's performance against reigning champions Borussia Dortmund underlined why the South Korean is such a sought after talent,'' said German soccer writer James Thorogood. "The 20-year-old scored twice, but it was his pace and industry that proved to be a constant thorn in the side of Dortmund's defenders, setting him apart in a stunning team outing.''
Another 20-year-old playing in Germany, Austrian David Alaba, was fifth with 84 points after scoring twice in Bayern Munich's 4-0 victory over Schalke that propelled the Bavarian team 15 points clear at the top. "Alaba's emergence in arguably the most talented Bayern squad of recent years has been nothing short of spectacular,'' said Thorogood.
Manchester United's Robin van Persie scored in his team's victory over rivals Everton. The 39-year-old winger Ryan Giggs, whose goal against Everton means he has scored in each of the past 23 seasons for United, was rewarded with 10th place.
Barcelona, Bayern Munich and United all have huge leads in their respective national leagues and it's possible that they'll be crowned champions long before the end of the season.
Tom Timmermann, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the United States, said the rankings had been stagnant, but the return of Champions League activity provided fresh impetus "for more significant change as some of the big boys go head to head.''
"I threatened to drop Barcelona from the top spot if they didn't come through this week, and they responded with a 6-1 win, so I didn't hesitate to make them No. 1 again this week. And the same goes for Man U and Bayern Munich in the 2 and 3 spots,'' he said.
Barcelona was a comfortable winner of the team award with 177 points, with Bayern second on 152 and United third on 135. Real Madrid was fourth and Italian league leader Juventus fifth. Three Premier League teams - Southampton, Tottenham and Chelsea - filled the last three sports in the top 10.
AP Global Soccer Rankings for week ending Feb. 10 (Previous rankings in parentheses):
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, 183 points.
2. Andres Iniesta, 101.
3. Gareth Bale (5), 98.
4. Lionel Messi (9), 87.
5. David Alaba, 84.
6. Robin van Persie, 70.
7. Son Heung-Min, 36.
8. Michu, 32.
9. Mario Balotelli (1), 29.
10. Ryan Giggs 26
(tie) Sunday Mba 26
1. Barcelona, 177 points.
2. Bayern Munich (1), 152.
3. Manchester United (2), 135.
4. Real Madrid 120.
5. Juventus (7), 106.
6. Hamburg, 71.
7. Paris Saint-Germain (4), 53.
8. Southampton, 50.
9. Tottenham, 48.
10. Chelsea, 36.