Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend
With thousands of players from across the globe to pick from, here is Bleacher Report's attempt to select just five of world football's very best performers this weekend.
Circumstances, both for the players and their side, their overall contribution in relation to their team's level of success and the level at which they were playing at are all factors considered here.
Disagree with any of the picks or feel as if there’s a standout omission? Let us know in the comments section below.
But before then, here are our top five performers:
*Unless otherwise stated, all statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)
Friday night's Bundesliga offering saw VFB Stuttgart travel to the Westfalenstadion to take on Borussia Dortmund, and Die Borussen striker Robert Lewandowski was more than happy to make the most of the space afforded him by the away side's grossly undermanned defence in a 6-1 home win.
The 25-year-old gave his career-defining performance in last season's Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid, where he scored four times in a 4-1 win, and if we consider this something of an encore, it isn't a bad one.
While he and his colleagues were somewhat wasteful during the first half—even so, they still went into the break 2-1 up—Lewandowski was at his clinical best in the second period.
First, he struck from close range after a impudent backheel from Marco Reus broke the offside trap. Two minutes later, a sumptuous pass from Henrikh Mkhitaryan saw Lewandowski engineer space between two defenders with his strength and intelligence, before showcasing a clever touch and excellent finish.
Watching Dortmund. Mkhitaryan's pass to Lewandowski for the fourth goal made me stand up in my living room and clap.— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) November 1, 2013
The Polish forward would later add his third, following up to convert a rebound when the ball had hit the post as well as assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a pinpoint cross as Dortmund notched their sixth.
And while those key moments played their part in his perfect-10 rating, as you expect with Lewandowski, his hold-up and link play were both exceptional, as was his movement between the lines and down the channels.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
And unfortunately for Chris Hughton and his Canaries, Aguero was in imperious form as Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City dominated their visitors from beginning to end, eventually running out 7-0 winners.
Yet while the goals were shared around—there were seven different scorers—Aguero was devastating, scoring once and playing his part in three others.
It was the 25-year-old forward, all sharp turns and clever, explosive movement, who pressured Bradley Johnson into scoring a bizarre own goal, and it was then the City No. 16 who linked intelligently to set up David Silva for the City second.
A really outstanding team move saw Aguero cut through the Norwich defence before finding Alvaro Negredo who duly tapped home from three yards for the home side's fourth before eventually in the 71st minute Aguero got a goal himself (City's sixth) with a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Pellegrini: "Kun Aguero is one of the best three or four players in the world and he must demonstrate this every game."— City Watch (@City_Watch) November 2, 2013
All-in-all, Aguero's showing led to him receiving a perfect-10 rating from WhoScored.com also, and in all competitions this season, he now has 11 goals and seven assists in just 12 matches, according to Transfermarkt.
For Manuel Pellegrini's hopes of leading City to glory this term, that can only bode well.
Luciano Vietto (Racing Club)
For supporters of Racing Club de Avellaneda, the 2013 Torneo Inicial has been nothing less than dismal.
Heading into this week, one of Argentina's traditional giants sat rock bottom of the Primera Division table with just two points from their opening 12 matches, having scored just four goals. On Monday evening, they claimed a 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Olimpo to move on to five points, but a trip to Gimnasia LP—unbeaten at home—was the last thing they would have wanted this weekend.
Nonetheless, seemingly renewed with fresh hope and impetus, Reinaldo Merlo's side claimed a shocking second win of the season, largely down to the precocious brilliance of young striker Luciano Vietto as they emerged 3-1 winners.
The 19-year-old is, unquestionably, one of the bright young things in Argentine football, but with his surroundings having proven so miserable in the last three months, it's been no surprise to see his performance levels drop.
However, in La Plata, Vietto gave the kind of showing of which he is capable. Playing as a secondary striker, he dropped between the lines to great effect, linking play with intelligent runs and passes, and throughout his 69 minutes on the field, he kept the Gimnasia defence honest.
It was his goals, however, which will have brought the biggest smiles to the faces of Racing supporters.
The first saw Vietto pull away to the far post as an out-swinging Gaston Campi cross was flicked on, and Vietto planted his header past the keeper. His second (Racing's third) saw Vietto shift the ball from his right foot to his left to open up the space, before firing into the roof of the net.
Two excellent poacher's finishes which, given the circumstances, earn Vietto his place on our list.
GOL DE RACING! Luciano Vietto makes it 3-1 to the visitors, 63 mins in. Having weathered the storm early in the 2nd half, they look good now— Sam Kelly (@HEGS_com) November 3, 2013
Steven Caulker (Cardiff City)
The England international centre-back made something of a surprise move during the summer when he exchanged Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur for newly promoted Cardiff City, but regular exposure to first-team action is proving the making of the young defender.
Cardiff boss Malky Mackay has seen fit to make Caulker not only his first-choice centre-half but has also handed the 21-year-old the captain's armband, and his performance against Swansea was one of a defender who is maturing nicely.
A loan spell with Swansea two years back and then last season at White Hart Lane proved Caulker has the technical and physical attributes to play in the Premier League: He's good in possession, decisive, strong aerially and comes with a decent amount of pace.
But now, alongside the rugged Ben Turner, Caulker is now impressing with his leadership ability, calmness in the face of pressure and showing greater reading of the game as well. Against Swansea, all of these were on display, as the Swans dominated possession for the majority of the south Wales derby but were time and again rebuffed by Caulker and his well-organised back line.
Mackay on Caulker: ‘He was brave to step out of Spurs. He did it for best intentions of his career not pocket. He'll have long #eng career'— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) November 3, 2013
And the Bluebirds skipper showed how handy he can be at the other end also, powering above Chico Flores to guide a header into the corner of the net and hand Mackay's side victory.
WhoScored.com gave Caulker an 8.3 overall rating, but for his good work that goes beyond such measurements, the former Spurs man deserves his place among our top five.
Marko Basa (Lille OSC)
While much of the talk concerning Ligue 1 deals with the ultra-flush Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco, Rene Girard's Lille have been quietly going about their business in the French top division and now find themselves second in Ligue 1, just two points off PSG.
Sunday evening saw LOSC meet Monaco at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole, and while Nolan Roux will get the plaudits for scoring both goals in a 2-0 win, it was a showing based around Lille's impressive defence—who kept a seventh successive clean sheet in the league, dating back to September 15.
And absolutely vital to their victory over Monaco was the Montenegrin mountain, Marko Basa.
27min GOAAAAAAAAAAAAL LILLE. MARKO BASA, THE MONTENEGRO MOUNTAIN, THE SNAKE FROM PODGORICA HEADS FROM A CORNER. ROUX TAPS IN 1-0 LILLE— FFW (@FrenchFtWeekly) November 3, 2013
The 30-year-old centre-back played his part in Roux's opener, winning the inital header from a corner, but it was his defensive showing and dealing of Radamel Falcao—having missed the entirety of October through injury—which earns him a spot here.
Czech defender David Rozenhal had covered for Basa impressively during his time on the sidelines, and while Girard made the decision to return Basa to his starting XI, the Montenegrin justified his faith.
Any ball that came into Falcao, Basa was breathing down his neck, not giving an inch. Any ball thrown aerially was almost certainly the domain of the 6'2" centre-half while his positioning was impeccable throughout, as proven by his making four interceptions and a staggering 19 clearances. He also had a more than decent 93 percent pass ratio.
As such, Basa's excellent defensive display makes him our final choice in our weekend top five.
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