Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend: Featuring More Suarez Magic
With Christmas fast approaching, this was a big weekend for a number of the world's top leagues.
A number of Europe's top leagues find themselves heading into either hectic festive periods or warming down as they head towards their winter breaks, and a number of big clubs were looking to make their title mark.
In South America, the Brasileirao and a number of others witnessed their final weekend of the season, whilst Argentina's Torneo Inicial championship has also seen a number of key matches make an impact on either end of the table.
Also, this weekend brought about the 2013 MLS Cup, with Sporting KC emerging triumphant over Real Salt Lake—congratulations to them.
Anyway, with all that being said, here's a look at the weekend's top five performers.
Disagree with any of the picks or feel as if there’s a standout omission? Let us know in the comments section below.
*Unless otherwise stated, all statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
Bayern Munich have been an unbeatable force for the most part under Pep Guardiola, and their astonishing 40-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga continued at the Weserstadion as they completely destroyed Werder Bremen.
And as has been the way during 2013, their chief protagonist was the irrepressible Frenchman, Ballon d'Or contender Franck Ribery.
Having missed Die Bayern's last two Bundesliga matches—including the 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund— the winger was back for Guardiola's side, returning for the injured Arjen Robben.
And the uber-talented winger was straight back into the swing of things, dominating proceedings as the Bavarians romped to a 7-0 success.
Running riot down the left flank, Ribery has 110 touches, a pass completion of 88 percent and terrorised the Bremen defence with his slaloming runs, intelligent movement and clever, incisive passing.
Throw in his two goals, assist and the countless other opportunities he created for his side, and it makes perfect sense why he scored a perfect 10 from WhoScored.
#guardiola today lending his opinion on who should be world player year"Ribery has been spectacular this year he is why we are where we are"— tim caple (@timcaple) December 8, 2013
Props also to Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze, both excellent, and the entire Bayern side for this performance. Truly awesome.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
The Uruguayan forward has been in scintillating form lately, and while his showing against West Ham didn't match his unbelievable four-goal salvo against Norwich, it wasn't half bad.
Always busy, always moving and always causing defences problems, Suarez was simply too much for Sam Allardyce's side to handle, and he played a major part in Liverpool's 4-1 victory.
14 - Luis Suarez has scored more goals than eight Premier League teams this season. Rampant.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2013
The South American star has really come into his own since returning from suspension in September. This was another excellent showing at Anfield, as he scored one and had a big part in two others as the Reds streaked to, ultimately, a comfortable win.
It was Suarez who played a major part in the opening goal, firing a vicious shot that Jussi Jaaskelainen couldn't hold and that bounced off Guy Demel into the net.
With the score at 2-1 in the 80th minute, Suarez then took it upon himself to make the game safe.
Firstly, from a wonderful Glen Johnson cross, he powered a header home. Four minutes later, he twisted Mark Noble inside-out, before firing past Jaaskelainen (via a heavy deflection off Joey O'Brien) for the fourth.
All in, he was outstanding, picking up a 9.3 WhoScored rating.
Simon Rolfes (Bayer Leverkusen)
On Saturday evening the two came face-to-face at the Westfalenstadion, with Hyypia's men claiming a 1-0 win thanks to Heung-Min Son's early goal, but it was the Bayer skipper, Simon Rolfes, who was the best player on the pitch.
Simon Rolfes: MotM vs Borussia Dortmund, Rating 9.1, Dribbles 4, Tackles 6, Interceptions 3, Clearances 8 http://t.co/yAKU5dOzkx— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 7, 2013
The 31-year-old may not be the most dynamic player on the pitch anymore, but against Juergen Klopp's pressing machine, his was a cool head as he played a major part in the away side's resistance.
Positionally the German international was excellent, working in harness with Lars Bender to stop BVB attacks before they had begun, while he made more successful tackles (six) than anyone else.
Additionally, he harassed opponents, marshalled those around him so they were set up against any potential break from the home side and made a number of key interceptions.
On the offensive, his passing was largely solid, and he always offered, even when under pressure. He played a number of intelligent vertical passes that allowed Bayer's runners—Son, Gonzalo Castro, Jens Hegeler and the excellent full-back Emre Can—to carry the ball forward. He also (perhaps surprisingly) completed four dribbles himself.
All in, it was a wonderful performance from the experienced midfielder, granting him a 9.1 WhoScored rating and playing a big part in his side's victory.
Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)
French defender Aurelien Collin was that man.
Trailing 1-0 in the second half, he fought off the attentions of his marker from a right-wing corner before leaping high above two Real Salt Lake defenders to power a ferocious header past Nick Rimando.
It pushed the match into extra time and eventually penalties, where the leader of the Sporting defence had the final say. He coolly planted his penalty past Rimando to make it 7-6, before Lovel Palmer fired off the crossbar.
However, it wasn't just Collin's showing up at the attacking end that gets him on our list; throughout MLS Cup, he was the game's outstanding performer and duly earned his MVP award.
Positionally, he was excellent. As is customary, he was strong in the tackle and authoritative in the air. He marshalled his defensive line well throughout, against an RSL attack that has arguably been the best in MLS during 2013.
Rodrigo Palacio (Internazionale)
When people tend to recount the unbelievable options available to Argentina boss Alejandro Sabela ahead of their World Cup campaign next summer, there is one name which gets forgotten more than any other: Rodrigo Palacio.
The Internazionale forward, flexible in numerous roles across the front line, has been an increasingly important player for both club and country in 2013, however. His Sunday evening showing in Inter's 3-3 draw with Parma at the San Siro showed exactly why.
Full of pace, clever movement and intelligent runs that stretch opposing defences, Walter Mazzarri has been utilising the 31-year-old former Boca Juniors man as a lone striker in a 3-5-1-1 formation of late. Palacio's nine goals and five assists in 15 Serie A matches have more than justified his manager's faith.
He levelled the scores at 1-1 in the first half with a poacher's effort, diverting an excellent cross from Brazilian wing-back Jonathan past Antonio Mirante.
Parma would retake the lead before Palacio played a major role in putting Inter in front in the second period, scoring one and assisting another in the space of three minutes.
Firstly, he headed an excellent Ricky Alvarez cross past Mirante from 10 yards. Two minutes later, he climbed higher than a defender to nod a long diagonal into the path of Fredy Guarin, who cut onto his left foot and fired Inter in front.
And against Parma, though Mazzarri's side were found wanting defensively and were unable to secure victory, Palacio was a major bright spot.