AP Global Football 10-Quotebox


James Porteous, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong.

"With Lionel Messi `only' scoring the one this week, Ronaldo going even worse by scoring an own goal and the pair sharing a draw in the midweek Copa clasico, I've left out Real, Barca and their two stars for the first, perhaps only, time. I've given top player to the best story of the weekend. Of course that's Mad Mario, one-third of the Milan Mohawks. Two goals on your debut is not a bad way to endear yourself to the fans. It might not be long before he's in the Gazzetta headlines for the wrong reasons, but whatever happens it's bound to be entertaining. Top team I've given to Bayern, who roll relentlessly on towards the Bundesliga title with an impressive win over Mainz. Now 11 points clear, it looks like Dortmund's hopes of keeping their crown are forlorn."

Aurelio Capaldi, RAI Sport, Italy

"Bayern look unstoppable as they keep on winning Bundesliga games with impressive performances. It was difficult to imagine a great player like Gomez would face a tough time, but Mandzukic seems to deserve the top spot now as he simply can't stop scoring. Mario Balotelli had lots of eyes on him for his first night as AC Milan striker after his controversial spell at Man City. He was brilliant from the very start, handled the pressure well, scored a double and confirmed his ability to stay strong when a decisive penalty has to be taken."

James Thorogood, Bundesliga.com/TalkingFussball, Germany.

"Keeping Mario Gomez, one of Europe's most prolific strikers, out of the Bayern first team is not an easy feat to do, but Mario Mandzukic is making it look easy with five goals to his name since the winter break. The Croatian's added dynamism is a weapon Munich didn't have in their arsenal last season and, courtesy of his two well-taken goals against Mainz, the 26-year-old now leads the Bundesliga goal-scoring charts. Bayern Munich have been in indomitable form all season and are yet to concede in the second half of the season having collected three wins by at least a two-goal margin."

John Duerden, Asian football writer.

"Mario Balotelli upset the English media by leaving and then mentioning that he wasn't a fan of the press or the weather but reminded City fans of what they are missing with both goals on his debut for Milan including a last-minute penalty winner. Is there a better penalty-taker in the world? PSG: Win 4-0, stay top, sign one of the most famous people in the world and then announce a whopping new shirt deal. Not a bad week. Manchester United just keep winning and winning. Hard to see them stopping now."

Tito Puccetti, ESPN, Argentina.

"Gareth Bale has reached 11 goals in the Premier League, his best mark so far. Certainly will be the player sought after by the top teams next summer."

Filip Bondy, New York Daily News, United States.

"Time to give Gareth Bale his due as one of the world's top attacking midfielders. Bale consistently sets a relentless pace and this weekend scored a remarkable winning goal, his 13th for Spurs."

Tom Timmermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, United States.

"After two draws last week, I'm putting Barcelona on notice. Any slipup next week and they have to give the No. 1 spot to Man United. They are holding on by a very thin margin. At the other end, Chelsea, which I grudgingly let back in to my top 10 last year is banished again, opening up a spot for PSG, which may have had the most interesting week last season with its David Beckham signing. When your coach calls you "horrible," as Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho did, you're going to drop. And so they did. I'm going with Sissoko since goals came against Chelsea, which every now and then purports to be one of the top teams in premiership. Since I somehow am driven to have a Barcelona player on my ballot each week, goalie Valdes gets the nod for two excellent saves that salvaged a tie against Valencia. I have an honorary No. 11 pick this week in American Jozy Altidore, for his adroit handing of racial taunts in AZ Alkmaar's game with Den Bosch."

Leonardo Bertozzi, ESPN, Brazil.

"After an assist in his first match, the newly arrived French defensive midfielder Sissoko was the star in (Newcastle's) 3-2 come-from-behind win over Chelsea, scoring two goals. After Papiss Cisse in 2012, Newcastle seems to have made another great addition in the winter market. The Colombian Jackson Martinez was outstanding with a hat trick in (Porto's) 4-0 win over Vitoria de Guimaraes. It was his best showing for the Dragoes (Dragons) this season."

Julian Bennetts, Hayters news agency, England.

"What a debut from Mario Balotelli. Why always him? Because he has always had the talent but hasn't always fulfilled it. Perhaps AC Milan will see the best of him. Gareth Bale has also always had the talent, but now he is producing his best on a consistent basis. The Welshman does something spectacular almost every week, and two astonishing goals this week were worthy of repeated viewing. The only question now is whether Tottenham can keep hold of him in the summer."

Orfeo Suarez, El Mundo, Spain.

"With a spectacular hat trick, Jackson Martinez is improving in the Portuguese league. Varane was the star in the last clasico, ahead of Cristiano and Messi. A young player, only 19 years old, with a big future in Real Madrid and the French national team. Sissoko had the best debut in Newcastle with two goals against Chelsea. Borussia Dortmund won the match where you can see the best football in the Bundesliga nowadays, but Bayern Munich is a strong leader. Interesting duel next year between Klop and Guardiola."

Will Tidey, The Bleacher Report, United States.

"How predictable that the enigmatic Mario Balotelli should on his Milan debut put in a man-of-the-match performance and highlight just how brilliant he is, just a matter of days after Manchester City decided he wasn't worth putting up with anymore. Newcastle's French legion did for Chelsea on Saturday, with Moussa Sissoko attacking his midfield role with a verve and determination that lifted everybody around him. Raphael Varane deserves inclusion for his standout performance for Real Madrid in their 1-1 Copa del Rey draw with Barcelona in midweek. The teenage Frenchman clearly has a very bright future."

Mike McGrath, The Sun/Wardles news agency, England.

"Mario Balotelli showed what a match-winner he could have been for Manchester City. Perhaps he will be happier now he is back at home in Italy."

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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