Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend
Another glorious weekend of footballing action means that tens of thousands of players have been scrapping once again for a place in our top five.
(Of course they haven't—they've just been trying to win—but we like to pretend…hold on, I think I said this last week.)
Anyway, with that being said (or repeated) here are Bleacher Report's top five world football players from this weekend.
As always, if you disagree with any of the picks or feel as if there’s a standout omission—there is no Fernando Torres on account of that miss from six yards—then let us know in the comments section below.
But until then, here are our top five performers:
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Suarez was the the heart of everything that was good about the Reds and provided good value for his hat-trick.
His opening goal was vintage Suarez. Intelligently dropping between the lines before turning and driving at the opposing back line, he drifted past two challenges, nutmegged Swedish defender Jonas Olsson and lashed a low shot past Boaz Myhill.
His second came when he met an Aly Cissokho cross from 18 yards and powered a header past Myhill into the top corner. It was very un-Suarez like—more the kind of finish you'd expect from Luca Toni—but it was just another showing of his all-round talent.
Luis Suarez having a field day. Albion can't get near him.— Alex Richards (@AA_Richards) October 26, 2013
And Suarez rounded off his treble with another header in the early throes of the second period, glancing a Steven Gerrard free-kick deftly into the far corner when left alone in the penalty box.
But aside from his goals, his all-round showing was nothing short of outstanding. He moved along the line brilliantly, committed defenders, linked well with teammates—particularly Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson—and generally was too hot for the Baggies defenders to handle.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers substituted the 26-year-old in the 89th minute so that he could revel in the standing ovation afforded to him by the home support. It was fully deserved, and Suarez is undoubtedly the idol of the Kop once more.
Alex Lopez (Celta Vigo)
The Luis Enrique era at the Balaidos hasn't exactly got off to the best of starts. Prior to this weekend, Celta Vigo had taken just six points from their opening nine matches, scoring just eight goals, having won just once and with their last four league matches all ending in defeat.
But at La Rosaleda on Saturday afternoon it all came together for the Galicians with a quite remarkable 5-0 win at Malaga, and the performance of midfielder Alex Lopez encompassed everything that was good about Enrique's side.
It was an all-action showing from the 25-year-old, who was tenacious when necessary, competed well and opened up opportunities for his side on a number of occasions with intelligent vertical passing; accuracy wise, he evened out at 63 percent according to WhoScored?, but this wasn't tiki-taka nor passing for the sake of it—every pass was done with a forward-thinking purpose in mind.
Lopez got Celta off to the best possible start with an excellent opening goal after six minutes, receiving a ball 25 yards from goal before turning and coolly picking out the bottom corner.
Fellow midfielder Augusto Fernandez had given Celta a 2-0 lead midway through the second half but it fell to Lopez to make the game safe in the 64th minute, as he put game beyond doubt. Willy Caballero made a number of good saves in quick succession before parrying Fernandez's effort, and Lopez reacted quickest to head home.
Lopez also played a hand in Celta's fourth and the pick of the game's goals. A quick break saw Lopez driving through the Malaga half with the ball, and as he approached the final third he moved the ball left to winger Nolito—himself outstanding—who curled an excellent shot into the top corner past Caballero.
Lopez has been Celta's most used outfield player so far this season, featuring in all 10 of his side's La Liga matches, and it's easy to see why Luis Enrique sees him as such an integral part of his side based on this performance.
Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim)
The brilliant Brazilian playmaker has been the star turn for an eccentric Hoffenheim side so far this season and was at it again on Saturday with another dazzling display.
Usually, a trip to Hannover is one of the Bundesliga's tougher assignments, and while it is true to say that the early red card handed to Hannover striker Mame Biram Diouf helped the away side, take nothing away from Hoffenheim's showing as they romped to a 4-1 success.
And to the fore once again was the 22-year-old Firmino, whose impact on the game could be felt throughout.
It was from his slide-rule pass that French striker Anthony Modeste won a ninth-minute penalty, converted by Sejad Salihovic. Kai Herdling made it 2-0 in the 18th minute, but Salif Sane gave the 10 men hope in the 56th minute.
However, just after the hour mark Firmino took charge and two clinically taken goals secured the win for Markus Gisdol's side.
Firstly, Firmino raced on to a through pass from Eugen Polanski before beating the onrushing Ron-Robert Zieler, and two minutes later the Hoffenheim No. 10 showed his strength to shrug aside defender Marcelo before again slotting low past Zieler.
Yet, everything about Firmino's performance oozed that little bit of extra class. His movement was sharp and intelligent as he interpreted the extra space available to him, his passing was crisp, and even before his goals he was the game's outstanding attacking player.
I made the suggestion recently that a move away from Hoffenheim could make sense in the near future for Firmino—he now has 10 goals and seven assists in 11 matches (all competitions) for an inconsistent side this term—as he looks to improve himself and make his mark with a bigger club.
Performances such as this will only encourage some of Europe's elite to take a closer look at the attacking midfielder.
Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina)
Juan Cuadrado was the star of the show as Fiorentina won 2-1 in Verona against Chievo with a magnificent performance.
The Colombian speed merchant was playing in an unusual left-wing position—whereas he normally plays down the right—as a part of a front trio along with Giuseppe Rossi and Spanish winger Joaquin. With his mixture of speed, flair and incisive dribbling Cuadrado caused Chievo's five-man defence untold problems.
And the Viola, having enjoyed a pretty miserable start to the game, conceding to Bostjan Cesar after just 13 minutes, were indebted to the brilliant Cuadrado for his match-winning antics, as he scored twice to lead his side to victory.
On the stroke of half-time Cuadrado levelled the score with a wonderful individual showpiece, which saw him drive toward the byline before skilfully pulling the ball inside onto his favoured right foot from where he placed the ball into the far corner; it was a quite magnificent goal, which showcased both his balance and creativity.
I could watch Cuadrado all day long. Such a unique, unorthodox player. And so skilful. Love him— Carlo Garganese (@carlogarganese) October 27, 2013
Cuadrado would add a second—the winner—midway through the second period when teed up by Rossi, again coolly converting with his right foot and his brace sent the Viola to fifth in the Serie A table.
The 25-year-old, with his ability to commit opposing defenders and to transition quickly from back to front has become an integral member of both Vincenzo Montella's side and that of his national team.
Today, he was everywhere, and happily for Montella and Fiorentina supporters, he proved decisive.
Mehdi Benatia (AS Roma)
Well, things are just getting silly at the top of Serie A now, aren't they?
Rudi Garcia's Roma side emerged from a difficult trip to the Stadio Friuli against previously unbeaten-at-home Udinese with yet another victory, their ninth in the league this season in as many matches.
And at the heart of their win—secured with 10 men, lest we forget, following the red card handed to Brazilian full-back Maicon—was another dominant defensive play from outstanding summer signing Mehdi Benatia.
Roma have conceded just once in their nine Serie A matches this season, and Benatia himself has now won his last 17 Serie A games, having won the final eight league games during his time with Saturday's opponents.
Benatia has now won 17 games in a row, great player. One of the best CBs in the world now, congrats to Roma for acquiring him— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) October 27, 2013
Again on Sunday Benatia was strong when he needed to be, composed in possession, aerially outstanding—he didn't lose a single aerial duel according to WhoScored?—and quick across the ground, while he organised and shaped his back line depending on the situation.
It was the performance of a leader and one of the very best centre-backs in world football today.