Mike McGrath, Wardles/The Sun, England.
"A rare defeat for Barcelona meant a window of opportunity for another team to take top place. Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo have been waiting to pounce." Tom Timmermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, United States.
"It's going to take a bit more than a tie in a Cup match and a loss on an injury-time goal when the team is down to 10 men to get me to drop Barcelona out of the No. 1 spot. After all, what did I expect, that they'd never lose again? They are human, after all, except for (Lionel) Messi. This week had some of the best performances I'd seen in a while. There were some people who would have gotten serious consideration in previous weeks who didn't even crack the top 10. Messi can do no better than fourth in the face of some great performances elsewhere. (Paul) Pogba's goals were outstanding against Udinese, and Viktor Fischer of Ajax gets recognized for getting two goals in a clutch match despite his team being down a man. And he's just 18. Gonzalo Castro scored two goals against Barcelona for Real Sociedad. That deserves some sort of reward. Normally I wouldn't put much on Alessandro Del Piero playing in Australia because of the competition, but I don't care where you are, not many people score four goals in a game. The mere act is enough to get my vote. Not to be a Euro-snob, but if he'd done it somewhere in Europe, I'd be a lot more impressed."
Paolo Condo, Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy. "The big return of Real Madrid was matched only by the incredible win of Real Sociedad, who defeated Barcelona for the first time in a season coming back from a two-goal abyss. Nice victory for Dortmund too, and a brilliant first match of the new season for Santos (I saw a first class goal from Neymar). In the players' contest I think that Mesut Oezil was the special key able to open the goal box of Real Madrid, that David Silva is the top nightmare for Sir Alex (Ferguson), and that Paul Pogba will be one of the biggest stars in the close future. Last but of course not least, Alex Del Piero scored four goals in Sydney's victory."
James Porteous, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong. "As Barcelona finally lost their first league game of the season, team of the week has to go to Real Sociedad, who had Imanol Agirretxe's late goal to thank for claiming La Liga's biggest scalp. Real Madrid were hugely impressive in thrashing Valencia, and two-goal Cristiano Ronaldo gets my vote for player of the week, closely followed by Angel Di Maria, who also got a brace. Bayern and Dortmund returned to Bundesliga action where they left off before the winter break, Juve got back to winning ways by thumping Udinese in Italy, and Ajax deserve a mention for their Klassieker victory over Feyenoord, aided by a double from Viktor Fischer. And the A-League might not be the best quality football in the world, but hats off to Alessandro Del Piero, who scored four and had a hand in six of Sydney's seven goals against Wellington."
Will Tidey, The Bleacher Report, United States. Cristiano Ronaldo picked up two goals and an assist in Real Madrid's 5-0 romp against Valencia. And to think there were rumours he might be dropped. Sir Alex Ferguson will never admit it, but Paul Pogba - on the kind of form he showed for Juventus against Udinese - could have made a big impact for Manchester United this season. David Silva - two goals for City's midfield magician did for Fulham on Saturday. Giampaolo Pazzini scored twice in Milan's win against Bologna, with his second a work of art inside the box."
Aurelio Capaldi, RAI Sport, Italy. "Real Madrid probably played their best game of the season in Valencia where they got a huge victory. Their first half display was stunning with Cristiano Ronaldo, Oezil and Di Maria playing at the highest level. Real Sociedad were losing 2-0 against Barcelona and ended up winning 3-2 with Imanol Agirretxe capable of scoring an injury-time winner. It was the first defeat for Barcelona and shows what a brilliant night it was for Real Sociedad. Paul Pogba was the key man in Juventus' win over Udinese: he scored two sensational goals and was dominant in midfield. Pogba, signed in the off season on a free transfer from Manchester United, is showing his impressive talent. I think Sir Alex Ferguson is still regretting the way he lost this French teenager."
Cedric Rouquette, Eurosport, France. Real Madrid is top of my list for its incredible result at Valencia, which is still in the Champions League and remains a strong part of La Liga. So what if it doesn't affect the league table. In a week where Barcelona lets its guard drop, Real Madrid gave the impression of being the best counter-attacking team of all time and maintained the pressure on Atletico Madrid. Real Sociedad is only second in my list despite its performance against Barca. Rennes is in fourth place because of its brilliant week: qualifying for the French Cup final against the French champions and an away victory against Bastia. Angel Di Maria, with Cristiano Ronaldo, are at the top of my players' rankings. It's as if being in Jose Mourinho's bad books inspires a burst of inspiration."
John Duerden, Asian Football Writer, South Korea. "Omar Abdulrahman Inspired UAE to Gulf Cup title to confirm his status as West Asia's biggest talent. Adam Le Fondre of Reading came off the bench to score a brace that really puts the relegation cat amongst Premier League pigeons. Gonzalo Castro of Real Sociedad. You can't argue with two against Barcelona in a dramatic 3-2 win."