Not surprisingly, Real Madrid was anointed as the top team of AP Global Soccer 10 team rankings, after pulling two victories against fierce rivals Barcelona in a matter of days.
The defending La Liga champions secured a berth in the Copa del Rey final with a 3-1 win in the away leg at Camp Nou on Wednesday morning (Manila time), followed by their 2-1 league victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night (also on Manila time), reducing the gap to thirteen points with twelve matches remaining.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for Madrid in the Copa Del Rey semifinal, which placed him second in the AP's player rankings, just three points behind Tottenham's red-hot Welsh winger Gareth Bale, who scored in his fifth straight Premiership match against their North London rivals Arsenal. Before that match, he scored the game-winner against West Ham.
Real Madrid's Round of 16 Champions League opponent, Manchester United, prepared themselves for their battle at Old Trafford with a 4-0 thrashing of Norwich City in Premiership action. That victory piloted them to second in the AP team rankings, just ahead of Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich. The win featured a historic moment in Asian football, as Shinji Kagawa became the first Asian to score a hat trick in the Premier League. The feat moved him to third in the player rankings, ahead of another player who scored a hat trick, Liverpool's Luis Suarez.
AP Global Soccer Rankings for week ending March 3.
Based on 22 voters, using 10 points for top to 1 point for bottom place.
(Previous rankings in parentheses)
1. Gareth Bale (Tottenham and Wales), 170 points.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid and Portugal), 167.
3. Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United and Japan), 159.
4. Luis Suarez (Liverpool and Uruguay), 136.
5. Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund and Poland), 76.
6. Giampaolo Pazzini (AC Milan and Italy), 54.
7. Rodrigo Palacio, 48 (Inter Milan and Argentina).
8. Francesco Totti (AS Roma and Italy), 43.
9. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid and France), 37.
10. Julian Draxler (Schalke and Germany), 33.
1. Real Madrid (Spain), (10), 202 points.
2. Manchester United (England), ((3), 157.
3. Bayern Munich (Germany), (1), 148.
4. Tottenham Hotspur (England), 145
5. AC Milan (Italy), (2), 103.
6. Liverpool (England), 57.
7. Juventus (Italy), (6), 52.
8. Borussia Dortmund (Germany), 43.
9. FC Schalke (Germany), 31.
10. Inter Milan (Italy), 29.