LONDON (AP) — ___
Mike McGrath, Wardles news agency/The Sun, England. "Gareth Bale produced two key moments for Spurs within the space of a week and that is why he is the highest ranked player for me this week. The winner against West Ham was stunning and he kept his cool against Arsenal at the weekend. Next stop Champions League for the Welshman as his form puts Tottenham in pole position to finish in the top four of the English Premier League."
James Porteous, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong.
"Don't think there can be any competition for Gareth Bale this week, as he scored three goals in two games to stretch Tottenham's gap on North London rival Arsenal in the race for a Champions League place. With two 'Clasico' wins in a week - albeit the one in La Liga was not nearly as important as normal, given Real Madrid's forlorn hopes of catching Barcelona - Real have to be team of the week, though Manchester United could make that assessment look foolish by the time this is published. Elsewhere, (Luis) Suarez and (Shinji) Kagawa notched hat tricks in England, (Giampaolo) Pazzini and (Rodrigo) Palacio fired the Milan clubs to victories, (Bastian) Schweinsteiger was immense for Bayern, (Robert) Lewandowski can't stop scoring, (Raphael) Varane looks a superb new talent for Real, and one-club man Francesco Totti became joint second Serie A goalscorer of all time with his 225th for Roma."
Will Tidey, The Bleacher Report, United States.
"The wondrous Welshman is upping his price tag every time he plays. His heroics against West Ham were followed by a goal in the north London derby. Bale's shooting accuracy from outside the box is the best in Europe. The catalyst for Inter Milan's stunning comeback against Catania, Rodrigo Palacio needed just 45 minutes on the field to make my top 10 this week."
Aurelio Capaldi, RAI Sport, Italy.
"Real Madrid were capable of beating Barcelona twice in five days and they were particularly impressive at the Camp Nou where they demolished their eternal rivals and gained the right to be in the final of the Copa del Rey."
Tom Timmermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, United States.
"I thought it was going to be hard to stop voting Barcelona first in the poll, but it turns out they made it easy for me. With two losses last week to Real Madrid, it was easy to slide them down a few notches on my ballot and move Bayern Munich up to the top. I was torn between Bayern and Man U for the top spot, and it went to Bayern because they are at the moment more dominating in their league, and they beat my former No. 4 team, Borussia Dortmund. I wrestled with the issue of putting Barcelona ahead of Real Madrid on my ballot, since they lost to them twice, but Barca is still 13 points up on them in La Liga standings, and their body of work has to count for something. If Barca gets knocked out of the Champions League, it's now going to be fairly simple to keep them from the top spot. There have been a few principles I've tried to follow throughout the voting, and one is to favor someone who does well in two games in one week ahead of someone who does well in one. So while a hat trick is nice, I'm giving a preference to people who score three goals in two games. Which is why Gareth Bale gets the top spot after his one goal against Arsenal and then two against West Ham United, including a 90th minute game-winner. Kagawa's goals all were nice, which got him second. Another principle has been to reward players who both score and create. That's why Palacio is third, with 2 goals and an assist vs. Catania. And in the opening week of the MLS season, Mike Magee of the Los Angeles Galaxy gets a nod for his hat trick. Magee has been getting strong praise from teammate Robbie Keane even before this game and he proved him right."
Shintaro Kano, Kyodo news agency, Japan.
"Provided he stays fit, building the necessary strength and stamina, Kagawa will have plenty of goalscoring opportunities like Saturday with (Wayne) Rooney and (Robin) Van Persie commanding so much of the attention of the opposing defense. His touch amid congestion inside the box is first class, and United fans have only seen a glimpse of what Dortmund supporters saw in Kagawa. At this rate, the 12 million pounds Alex Ferguson paid for him will seem like a bargain as he will be under contract at United for the peak years of his career."
Orfeo Suarez Gonzalez, El Mundo, Spain.
"The week of (Cristiano) Ronaldo, with a special match in Camp Nou and a second victory in Bernabeu over the strongest club in the world. Manchester United is also in a great form after victory over Norwich and hat trick of Kagawa. Behind Ronaldo you can see Varane, a young French defender who is improving at a high level. See also Diego Costa of Atletico Madrid, second in La Liga and in the final of the Copa del Rey."
Paolo Condo, Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy.
"AC Milan continues to grow fast (Pazzini is the man on the spot now); remaining in Italy we register the great comeback of Inter in the hot stadium of Catania and the draw of Juve in Naples that almost secured the scudetto. Talking about players, we are admiring the best Ronaldo ever. Lewandowski and Bale will be next market kings, and I recommend two new stars: the beautiful Varane and the dangerous (Graziano) Pelle (of Feyenoord)."
Julian Bennetts, Hayters news agency, England.
"It's not been a bad 2013 for Gareth Bale so far. He is finally allowing other Tottenham players to score, but not often. His double against West Ham was simply astonishing, and although he didn't have the best of games against Arsenal you can't argue with another goal in a 2-1 victory. It's been a good week for Real Madrid, too, with Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo impressing at both ends of the pitch. Shinji Kagawa was superb in Manchester United's 4-0 demolition of Norwich, while Francesco Totti is now the joint second-highest scorer in Serie A history after his goal at the weekend - quite some achievement considering the Roma captain isn't even a traditional centre-forward. As mentioned above, Real Madrid had a good week. Not many teams defeat Barcelona, and fewer do so twice in a few days, as Madrid have just done. They were both impressive victories, too, and that edges Tottenham out of top spot this week. Manchester United will be pleased with their work against Norwich, while the MLS season got under way with LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew impressing. Juventus and Atalanta both got vital results in their chase for the title and the avoidance of relegation, respectively, while Schalke and Liverpool also got morale-boosting wins."