LONDON (AP) — Despite failing to win European football's top prize, Barcelona came out as the top team this season in The Associated Press global football poll.
And with 60 goals in all competitions, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi earned 66 votes more than Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo to top the season-end player rankings.
"Messi's supreme form until getting injured near the end of the season — a key factor in Barca's exit from Europe — means he is a more obvious standout for player of the year, especially as Bayern's success was built more on team and squad depth rather than one outstanding individual," said panelist James Porteous of the South China Morning Post.
Barcelona has already regained the Spanish league title from Madrid and is on course this weekend to match its rival's milestone of 100 points from the previous campaign.
The Spanish clubs both exited the Champions League in the semifinals, but Saturday's winner, Bayern Munich, was four points behind Barcelona in the AP tally of votes since the poll launched in October.
In the first all-Bundesliga Champions League final on Saturday, Munich secured a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, which was sixth in the rankings.
Arjen Robben scored the decisive goal at Wembley Stadium, a year after missing a penalty in Bayern's shootout loss to Chelsea in the final.
"I'm a little surprised Barca edged out Bayern, given the Germans' domestic dominance and Champions League win, but Barca were hugely impressive before falling to Bayern in the semifinals," Porteous said.
"In the last six seasons, either Barca or the team that knocked them out have won the Champions League, and with Neymar arriving, they should be strongly placed to win back the European title."
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