LONDON (AP) — Lionel Messi and Barcelona are back on top of The Associated Press global soccer poll.
Barcelona edged Liverpool by three points to take team of the week honors after routing Osasuna 7-0 in the Spanish league. Messi leads the player vote for the second time this season after scoring a hat trick in that victory and becoming Barcelona's all-time leading scorer — including exhibition games — with 371 goals.
"Messi is already the most important forward in Barcelona's history, with 371 goals at the age of 26, and has a long future," Orfeo Suarez of El Mundo in Spain said.
Aurelio Capaldi of RAI Sport in Italy highlighted the performance of Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who is fifth in the poll.
"Iniesta keeps acting like a maestro and his performances are always ready to seduce the crowd," Capaldi said.
Liverpool was second in the team poll after an emphatic 3-0 win over Manchester United in the Premier League, and Steven Gerrard was second to Messi after scoring two penalty kicks in that match.
"How Sir Alex Ferguson must regret writing in his autobiography that Steven Gerrard was 'not a top, top player.' The Liverpool captain looked a class apart from the current Manchester United team as he scored twice and oozed authority in their win at Old Trafford," Richard Jolly of ESPN said.
"They (Liverpool) achieved the sort of comprehensive, overwhelming win that will be remembered for decades. It was an extraordinary display of dominance."
Liverpool's title challenge was helped by Aston Villa beating Premier League leader Chelsea 1-0, a result that sees it move into ninth place. Midfielder Fabian Delph, who scored the winning goal, is 10th in the player list.
"Fabian Delph stole the show on Saturday afternoon, putting Nemanja Matic and the entire Chelsea defense to the sword," Sam Tighe of Bleacher Report said. "His back-heeled goal in the 82nd minute sealed the tie in Aston Villa's favor, with the club moving onto 34 points for the season as a result."