Juventus, Real Madrid tied as top team in AP poll
LONDON (AP) - Juventus and Real Madrid are even at the top of this week's Associated Press global football poll, with Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo first in the player poll.
The teams drew 2-2 in the Champions League last Tuesday and were the standout sides for the AP panel of 22 global football writers.
Juventus beat Serie A title rival Napoli 3-0 on Saturday, while Madrid thrashed Real Sociedad 5-1, with Ronaldo notching his 23rd hat trick since joining the Spanish club.
''They tried to make us think players pay no attention to what they say. With what he has shown since Sepp Blatter's critical comments about him, Cristiano Ronaldo has forced him to eat his words,'' Cedric Rouquette of France's Eurosport said. ''His pride stung, he has replied on the pitch with breathless form. The Ballon D'Or was possibly decided in his favor on Nov. 10.''
Ronaldo has been the main competitor to Lionel Messi, who has won the world player award for the last four years. But with Messi facing at least six weeks out with a leg injury, Ronaldo's prospects of winning the award on Jan. 13 have arguably never looked better.
He polled 45 points clear of fellow Ballon D'Or nominee Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain, who also racked a hat trick in a 3-1 defeat of Nice. Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo will face each other in top form as their national teams meet in a qualifying playoff for the World Cup.
''Every weekend, regret grows at the absence of one of Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2014 World Cup,'' Leonardo Bertozzi of ESPN Argentina said.
Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba were the most impressive performers in Juventus' win, and they were sixth and eighth respectively.
''There is something very, very special about Paul Pogba,'' Julian Bennetts of Hayters news agency said. ''As Manchester United look for a solution to their woes in central midfield, it seems astonishing they allowed the Frenchman to slip through their grasp. His goal against Napoli was sensational.''
Elsewhere in the team vote, nine points separate the top four clubs as Bayern Munich and Barcelona were second and third.
Munich extended its lead in the Bundesliga to four points by beating Augsburg 3-0 as Dortmund lost to Wolfsburg, while Barcelona won 4-1 away to Real Betis to maintain its place at the top of La Liga.
''After Bayern's (performance) last season, expectations were sky high for new boss Pep Guardiola but he hasn't disappointed,'' Shintaro Kano of Kyodo news agency said. ''The club is unbeaten over a record 37-game stretch, and it's starting to look like Guardiola will keep winning trophies at the rate he did in Barcelona.''
Manchester United beat Arsenal 1-0 in the English Premier League and is fifth in the team poll, while goal-scorer Robin van Persie polled ninth in the player vote. Had United lost against Arsene Wenger's side, they would have trailed the league leader by 11 points.
''Manchester United deserves a lot of credit even with a 1-0 victory,'' Ubiratan Leal of trivela.com in Brazil said. ''That is just a measure of how good Arsenal's first months of the season have been and how hard it is to beat them. A 1-0 score is just as valuable as a 4-0 with ordinary opposition.''
Luis Suarez, another Ballon D'Or nominee, was third after scoring twice in Liverpool's 4-0 win against Fulham, a result that sees them poll sixth in the team ranking.
Newcastle was 10th after beating Tottenham 1-0 away, a result largely down to its goalkeeper Tim Krul making 14 saves in the match, a performance that saw voted seventh.
AP Global Football 10 rankings for week ending Nov. 12
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, 188 points.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 143.
3. Luis Suarez, 82.
4. Cesc Fabregas, 77.
5. Son Heung-min, 75.
6. Andrea Pirlo, 73.
7. Tim Krul, 65.
8. Paul Pogba, 56.
9. Robin van Persie, 47.
10. Franck Ribery, 45.
1. Juventus, 144.
(tie) Real Madrid, 144.
3. Bayern Munich, 138.
4. Barcelona, 135.
5. Manchester United, 127.
6. Liverpool, 56.
7. Paris Saint-Germain, 54.
8. Sunderland, 43.
9. Bayer Leverkusen, 41.
10. Newcastle, 30.