Barkley's Brilliance and the Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend
Roy Hodgson recently inferred that he has already selected his World Cup squad, based on the performance of players over the last "two years," per FIFA's official website (via Sky Sports).
This would appear to discount the efforts of precocious Toffees midfielder Ross Barkley, but the England manager witnessed his formidable performance at Goodison Park on Saturday, which might just give him a reason to rethink his approach.
The Talented Mr Barkley leads our list of the top five players from around the world this weekend...
Everton lost out in the race for fourth place with their 3-2 home loss to Manchester City on Saturday evening, but the match provided two silver linings: They inadvertently helped quash the title campaign of their Mersey rivals Liverpool, and Ross Barkley enjoyed yet another stunning performance.
The 20-year-old made several brilliant runs and displayed many dazzling pieces of skill, most notably the back-heel turn that left Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri standing in his wake and the incredible curling golazo that opened the scoring in the 11th minute.
According to WhoScored.com, Barkley took more touches than anyone else on the field (98) and enjoyed a 91 per cent pass success rate.
Roy Hodgson was watching the performance from the stands, perhaps considering him for a starting place in England's World Cup line-up.
Hamburg were in desperate need of a win against Bayern Munich on Saturday but were left lingering in the relegation zone when the Bavarian visitors emerged 4-1 victors in a dominant display.
Die Rothosen were devastated by Mario Goetze, who played one of the best games of his career in his 32nd start of the season.
The former Borussia Dortmund star opened the scoring in the 32nd minute after a one-two with Arjen Robben and earned an assist in the 55th when Thomas Mueller turned in his deflected shot. Goetze then doubled his tally 14 minutes later when Rene Adler was unable to hold on to an Arjen Robben strike.
For his commanding performance, WhoScored.com awarded the 21-year-old a perfect 10 rating.
On a separate note, this match was also notable for an excellent overhead kick by Claudio Pizarro.
As mentioned by The Guardian's John Hooper, the Coppa Italia final was delayed by a serious incident of violence. Once the game at the Stadio Olimpico between Napoli and Fiorentina eventually went ahead, the Partenopei emerged 3-1 winners.
The best performance of the field came from striker Lorenzo Insigne, who managed a brace inside the first 17 minutes. The 22-year-old, who was the only Italian in Rafa Benitez's line-up, curled in the first with the help of a Marek Hamsik assist and the post, and his second with a deflection from Viola defender Nenad Tomovic.
After the game, Insigne said the brace for his hometown club was "the greatest joy of [his] career," as per Radio Kiss Kiss (via Football Italia), while Rafa Benitez believes he has done enough to earn a place in Cesare Prandelli's World Cup squad, via @SBOBETweets.
Juventus were awarded their third consecutive scudetto title on Sunday without even kicking a ball, as their closest rivals Roma were felled 4-1 by relegation candidates Catania.
It was a particularly good day at the office for the Elephants' Argentinean midfielder Mariano Izco, who contributed two goals and an assist in the surprise victory.
Izco's first was a well-placed left-footed drive set up by Sebastian Leto's delectable back-heel pass, while his second came eight minutes later from the outside of his right boot. In the 79th minute, the 31-year-old's pass set up Pablo Barrientos' lovely long-range strike.
There will probably be plenty of people in Turin willing to buy Mr Izco a drink in the coming days and weeks.
It's been a bizarre weekend in La Liga, with all three title-chasing clubs failing to pick up three points for the first time this season.
Real Madrid were on the brink of losing pace in the chasing pack when they were behind 2-1 to Valencia at home up until the end of normal time. But cometh the hour, cometh the man: In the third minute of injury time, Cristiano Ronaldo managed to score an incredible back-heel-volley equaliser, ably showing that Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn't the only superstar in town who can find the net in that manner.
The Portuguese superstar also earned an assist for Sergio Ramos' earlier goal and took 14 shots, as per WhoScored.com, which was 10 more than anyone else on the field.