Soccer

Bayern tops AP rankings for 4th straight week

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MANCHESTER, England (AP)

It's turning into a procession for Bayern Munich in the Associated Press global football poll.

For the fourth straight week, the German champions were voted the top team by our panel of journalists following back-to-back 6-1 wins - first against Wolfsburg in the German Cup semifinals and then over Hannover on Saturday for its 13th straight Bundesliga victory.

''As much as I like Barcelona, boy is it tough not to like the way Bayern Munich is playing right now,'' said Tom Timmermann, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the United States. ''Two 6-1 wins in one week? I don't care who you're playing. I like to see that.''

And there was more good news for Germany as national team playmaker Mesut Oezil was voted the best player of the week thanks to his double for Real Madrid in a 3-1 home win over Real Betis.

Oezil's silky display at the Santiago Bernabeu overshadowed that of international colleague Mario Gomez, whose five goals last week earned him a share of second place with Tottenham forward Gareth Bale.

Such was the quality on show across the globe this past week that Robin van Persie, whose hat trick in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa secured Manchester United a 20th English title, placed only seventh in the players' list.

Whether Bayern stays at the head of the line or is dethroned by the mighty Barcelona could hinge on the outcome of Tuesday's Champions League semifinal first leg between two of Europe's heavyweight sides.

''The best German title-winning side ever?'' Will Tidey, of the Bleacher Report in the United States, asked of Bayern. ''The argument is being made and you can see why based on Bayern's depth and their dominance this season.''

Nine of the 17 voters gave Bayern top marks, leaving Jupp Heynckes' side 30 points clear of second-place Juventus in the poll.

Gomez and fellow striker Claudio Pizarro have been free-scoring in recent weeks for Bayern and both made the top six.

''There's a Mario Gomez song button you can press every time he scores,'' Tidey added. ''It's been pressed five times in the past week.''

Juve is closing in on the Italian title and can have Arturo Vidal to thank for pressing home the team's advantage this week, with the Chile midfielder scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Lazio on Monday before following that with the winner over AC Milan on Sunday. Two of those goals came from the penalty spot.

''I'm not really big on rewarding him for someone else's work in drawing the foul,'' Timmermann said. ''Still, we've seen enough players botch penalty kicks to know they're not quite gimmes.''

Bale's return from an ankle injury inspired Tottenham to a 3-1 win against Manchester City and he was rewarded with 81 points from our panel. Tottenham was third among the teams.

''Tottenham may not be a one-man team, but they are a completely different proposition when Gareth Bale is in the side,'' said Julian Bennetts, of the Hayters News Agency in England.

Luis Suarez may have finished higher had he not attempted to take a chunk out of Branislav Ivanovic's arm in Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Chelsea. The Uruguay striker set up Daniel Sturridge's equalizer and then scored himself in the final minute of injury time to earn 30 points and ninth place in the players list - but by that time he had been caught on video biting Ivanovic.

It may be the last time we see Suarez in the AP poll for a while.

''Luis Suarez does not make it onto my list as his conduct when he appears to bite Branislav Ivanovic outweighs the impact he made in creating a goal and scoring the equalizer that earned a point,'' said Mike McGrath, of Wardles News Agency and The Sun.

---(equals)

AP Global Football Rankings for the week ending April 22.

Based on 17 voters, using 10 points for first, nine for second, one for bottom place. Previous rankings in parentheses.

Teams:

1. Bayern Munich (1), 141 points.

2. Juventus, 111.

3. Tottenham, 87.

4. Real Madrid (3), 71.

5. Barcelona (4), 67.

tie. Manchester United (6), 67.

7. Paris Saint-Germain (7), 58.

8. Borussia Dortmund (2), 55.

9. Valencia, 50.

10. Arsenal, 21.

Players:

1. Mesut Oezil, 95 points.

2. Gareth Bale, 81.

(tie) Mario Gomez, 81.

4. Robert Lewandowski (6) 47.

5. Roberto Soldado, 45.

(tie) Arturo Vidal, 45.

7. Robin van Persie (10), 38.

8. Radamel Falcao (5), 33.

9. Luis Suarez, 30.

10. Daniel Sturridge, 29.



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