- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LONDON (AP) - With nine goals in one week, Bayern Munich dislodged Barcelona from the top position in The Associated Press global soccer rankings.

And despite scoring 38 goals so far this season, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was ousted from the top of the player rankings by 20-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy.

El Shaarawy scored in AC Milan’s 1-1 draw with city rival Inter on Sunday and played a key role in the 2-0 Champions League victory over the Spanish league leaders.

Several panelists in the AP rankings paid tribute to Bayern, noting elimination from the Champions League could permanently cost Barcelona its dominant position in the rankings.

Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News said Bayern is the most consistent of the elite clubs.

“The 3-1 win over Arsenal and 6-1 victory over Bremen elevate Bayern to the No. 1 spot, finally. And we probably should have had them there earlier,” he said.

Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Barcelona is still the best club in the world, and one loss isn’t enough to change that.

“However, if Barca gets knocked out of the Champions League, this is a reality that will have to be addressed, and I’m not sure exactly how,” Timmermann said. “Until that happens, they’re hanging on to the top spot on my ballot, even with a two-goal loss.”

Real Madrid midfielder Kaka, out of form and Jose Mourinho’s favor for months, made his first appearance in the top 10 after scoring against Deportivo La Coruna over the weekend.

Paris Saint-Germain, boosted by the presence of David Beckham, came in fifth in the team rankings after the victory over Marseille, a win that took the Parisian club three points ahead at the top of the French league.

Barcelona could only manage eighth place this week, after being a regular leader of the team rankings. Bayern earned 195 out of a possible 210 points from the 21 voters who award 10 points for their preferred team, falling to one point.

“Bayern were probably the most impressive team of the week,” James Porteous of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong said, “comfortably beating Arsenal in the Champions League before hammering Werder Bremen to continue their remorseless march to the Bundesliga title.”

AC Milan was in second place, with 135 points, for its victory over Barcelona and the draw against Inter. Manchester United was third, staying 12 points ahead in the Premier League and holding Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in the Champions League.

El Shaarawy of Egypt has scored 23 goals this season.

“Milan almost had a perfect week,” Federico Giammaria of Argentina’s La Voz daily said. “And Stephan El Shaarawy is the reason why. He was the key against Barcelona and also a star against Inter. It was a great week for the `Pharaoh’ who promises more goals in the second chapter in Camp Nou.”

Messi earned second place and prolific Bayern striker Mario Gomez was third with 59 points, 20 behind Messi.

Fourth position in both the team and players’ rankings was awarded to the newly promoted Premier League team Sawnsea, which won the League Cup on Sunday with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Bradford. Nathan Dyer, who scored twice at Wembley, was tied for fourth with FC Porto striker Jackson Martinez.

The League Cup clearly had the attention of the panel of global soccer journalists.

“It’s the first trophy in 101 years for Swansea and (manager) Michael Laudrup deserves credit for what he has achieved until now with the Welsh club,” Aurelio Capaldi of Italy’s RAI Sport broadcaster said. “As well as beating Bradford and winning the Capital One Cup, he made his team play nice football.”

Franck Ribery, in ninth, meant Bayern had two players in the top 10, while Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart was voted into seventh after making a crucial penalty save against Chelsea on Sunday. The Premier League champions went on to win 2-0, earning Hart a rare appearance for a goalkeeper in the rankings.


AP Global Soccer Rankings for week ending Feb. 24

(Previous rankings in parentheses)


1. Stephan El Shaarawy, 85 points.

2. Lionel Messi , (1), 79.

3. Mario Gomez, 59.

4. Nathan Dyer, 49.

(tie) Jackson Martinez, 49.

6. Kevin-Prince Boateng, 47.

7. Joe Hart, 43.

8. Kaka, 41.

9. Santi Cazorla, 40

(tie) Franck Ribery, 40.


1. Bayern Munich, (3), 195 points.

2. AC Milan, 135.

3. Manchester United, ((4), 98.

4. Swansea, 97.

5. Paris Saint-Germain, 91.

6. Juventus, 88.

7. Manchester City, (10), 85.

8. Barcelona, (1), 60.

9. FC Porto, 45.

10. Real Madrid, (6) 33.

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