By Jack Bezants
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LONDON _ Lionel Messi and Barcelona returned to the top of the Associated Press Global Football 10 on Tuesday.
Barcelona beat Grenada 4-0 at the weekend, with Lionel Messi scoring a hat trick in the game two days before winning the Ballon d’Or for the fifth time.
“You have to admire Lionel Messi’s sense of timing,” Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the United States said. “In the two games prior to winning the Ballon d’Or, he scores five goals and two assists in two games. Not that there was any doubt, but he’s No. 1.”
Gareth Bale was runner-up to Messi in the player vote after scoring a hat trick in Real Madrid’s 5-0 victory over Deportiva La Coruna, the team’s first match with Zinedine Zidane as coach.
“What else could the fans have expected from the first game under the leadership of Zinedine Zidane? Probably nothing!” Manos Staramopoulos of Dimocratia in Greece said. “Real Madrid crushed Deportivo.”
Gonzalo Higuain was third after his two goals against Frosinone guided Napoli to a 5-1 away win.
Wissam Ben Yedder entered this week’s poll in fourth after scoring a hat trick as Toulose came from behind to beat Reims 3-1 in France. And Madrid striker Karim Benzema is fifth after scoring the other two goals in his side’s big victory over Deportivo.
Kevin Gameiro, Paulo Dybala, Marek Hamsik, Sergio Aguero and Cristiano Ronaldo complete the top 10.
In the team poll, Madrid is second to Barcelona after its 5-0 win on Saturday and Napoli is third.
“Napoli are scoring goals for fun as they show they will be a resurgent Juventus’ main rival in the battle for the Scudetto,” Marco Monteverde of News Corp. Australia said.
Juventus is behind Napoli in the team rankings after beating Sampdoria 2-1 for its ninth straight Serie A win. Atletico Madrid is fifth after beating Celta Vigo 2-0 to stay two points above Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league standings.
Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Sporting Lisbon, Manchester City and Sassuolo round out the top 10.
Associated Press Global Football 10
1. Lionel Messi, 106 points.
2. Gareth Bale, 98.
3. Gonzalo Higuain, 71.
4. Wissam Ben Yedder, 61.
5. Karim Benzema, 52.
6. Kevin Gameiro, 48.
7. Paulo Dybala, 44.
8. Marek Hamsik, 36.
9. Sergio Aguero, 34.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo, 25.
1.Barcelona, 108 points.
2.Real Madrid, 91.
5.Atletico Madrid, 60.
6.Paris Saint-Germain, 47.
8.Sporting Lisbon, 36.
9.Manchester City, 34.