Player: Edinson Cavani (SSC Napoli)
Demba Ba impressed on his debut with two goals in Chelsea FC's 5-1 FA Cup stroll at Southampton FC but – not for the first time this season – Edinson Cavani went one better. The Uruguay forward scored his seventh hat-trick for SSC Napoli in Sunday's 4-1 home win against AS Roma which lifted the Partenopei to third in Serie A. "His performances should earn him a Golden Ball," said Roma general manager Franco Baldini, while Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri simply concluded: "He was stunning."
The 25-year-old is Serie A's leading marksman with 16 goals, also boasting the same status for the UEFA Europa League with seven. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is not about to let him go, despite claiming to have received a €55m offer for 'El Matador': "I rejected it, and it was the right choice because he's an absolute champion."
Team: SAS Épinal
Holders Olympique Lyonnais were the biggest casualties of the week's domestic cup games – with Aston Villa FC at least having the chance to redeem themselves in the second leg of their English League Cup semi-final following a 3-1 midweek defeat at fourth-level Bradford City AFC. Épinal, who have won only two games this season in France's third tier, were Lyon's nemesis last Sunday, beating them on penalties after a 3-3 draw at the 7,000-capacity Stade de la Colombière.
"I don't know if it's a dream or if it's real," said Épinal president Yves Bailly while coach Fabien Tissot described the achievement as "just huge but deserved". Lyon's Michel Bastos, meanwhile, showed grace in defeat, hailing: "A team who managed to make us stutter. Credit to them."
Goal: Nicolás Gaitán (SL Benfica)
Best described as a flying back-heel, Argentinian international Gaitán's strike from an Óscar Cardozo corner in the Liga leaders' 3-1 victory at GD Estoril-Praia on Sunday was a superb piece of improvisation. "Nico is improving with every match, which is very good for the team," said Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, who saw the 24-year-old midfielder's goal as a small reward for the patience he has shown Gaitán. "Sometimes the most talented players lose the ball more, as they take individual decisions and don't worrry about losing possession," he said. "They can get a bit of grief sometimes, as coaches don't totally understand these kinds of players."
"If they're looking for a new James Bond, I wouldn't say that's out of my comfort zone at all."
Manchester United FC defender Rio Ferdinand is aiming high as he considers a post-football career as an actor.
Marco Storari marked his 36th birthday on Monday with a further celebration two days later when the goalkeeper made two great saves from Bakaye Traoré as Juventus beat AC Milan 2-1 after extra time to earn a Coppa Italia semi-final against S.S. Lazio. After an exhausting 120 minutes of quarter-final action in Turin, Storari may not have had enough breath left to blow out 36 candles, but Juve coach Antonio Conte hoped victory would be enough of a treat. "Marco Storari gave himself a nice birthday present with those two saves," he said.
Text pest: Him (FC Barcelona)
So the player who is no longer allowed to be named in Pick of the Week earned his fourth successive Ballon d'Or. He also showed great humility when sending a congratulatory text message to UC Sampdoria forward Mauro Icardi, whose two goals at Juventus secured an entirely unexpected Serie A win for Samp last weekend. The 19-year-old, like the nameless one, was born in Rosario, Argentina, and the two were club-mates from 2008–11, when Icardi was in the Barcelona youth ranks. "He also sent me messages to convince me to join Barcelona a few years ago," Icardi remarked.
Socks scandal: FC Bayern München
While UEFA.com's favourite photo of the week shows Bayern players hanging out with a camel at their winter training camp in Qatar, the German media have been delighted to report that the Bundesliga leaders' iron discipline has not been abandoned. Midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos are thought to have been fined for the the 1980s fashion crime of wearing white socks – rather than regulation black – at a training session.
"We have a common goal," coach Jupp Heynckes was quoted as saying. "We need discipline. It starts with everyone wearing the same socks." Captain Philipp Lahm was set the task of determining the punishment to be meted out to the errant pair, with club chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge applauding Heynckes' hard line: "I like the way the coach acts."
Swansong: Pia Sundhage (Sweden)
Sweden boss Sundhage laid down the gauntlet for all football managers with a remarkable performance on Monday. The 52-year-old celebrated being named FIFA Women's Coach of the Year – following her success in leading the United States to Olympic gold – with an ad hoc rendition of Bob Dylan's If Not For You at the awards ceremony in Zurich. Needless to say, men's winner Vicente del Bosque did not respond with a version of Yea! Heavy And A Bottle Of Bread, but seasoned Sundhage-watchers will not be too surprised by her outburst.
Sundhage introduced herself to her USA team in 2008 by singing Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changing, and former captain Julie Foudy remembered: "She used to sing at all the banquets. We used to chant for her to sing and laugh and say: 'Who is this crazy lady? We love her.'"
Pre-match ritual: Pepe Reina (Liverpool FC)
Liverpool goalkeeper Reina revealed another side to his personality in an interview on Spanish television this week, where he talked through the bizarre set of rituals he puts himself through before every game. The 30-year-old explained that he always crosses the touchline onto the pitch "with my right foot before hopping twice" and that he undertakes a complicated sequence of post touches and meticulously calculated steps, ankle and knee taps to focus on the match.
"On the morning of a game I have to fill up the car with petrol, even if it's just five pounds' worth," he went on. "Sometimes the pump attendants give me a funny look and say: 'You were just here yesterday.'"
Fond farewell: Emmanuel Olisadebe (Poland)
The latter part of his playing days were ruined by knee injuries, yet as he confirmed his retirement to UEFA.com this week at 34, former Poland striker Emmanuel Olisadebe showed grace and gratitude for the career he had, which included a trip to the 2002 FIFA World Cup. "I am very grateful to Poland – I started my proper career here, met my wife and played for the national team," said the Nigerian-born player, who spent his best years with KSP Polonia Warszawa and Panathinaikos FC.
"If it wasn't for the knee injuries, I could have done better, but I am still satisfied with what I achieved. I am a boy from Nigeria who went to do something in Europe and pulled it off. Who knows? Maybe one day I will come back to Poland as assistant coach."
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