Lionel Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo: Key battle in Barcelona v Real Madrid
By Matt Cheetham
Last Updated: 02/12/16 9:59pm
Who will come out on top between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in Saturday's Clasico? We take a look at the stats...
This Saturday brings the first Clasico of the 2016-17 season, as Spain's two heavyweights go head-to-head for the 173rd time in La Liga and the 233rd time in all competitions.
Balague's key men for Clasico
Guillem Balague on some of the players who could decide Saturday's Clasico.
Fronting each side will be the two leading names in world football in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. These two bring a combined total of 1,086 club goals and 38 major trophies.
Messi goes into Saturday on his poorest run of Clasico form, having failed to score in any of his past five meetings. It's his longest run without scoring and includes 17 shots without finding the net. Considering he has averaged a goal from every 5.8 shots since the start of last season, he will expect to end that run in this game.
Clasico top scorers (all competitions)
|Alfredo Di Stefano||Real Madrid||18|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||16|
The Argentina forward is level with Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano with 14 Clasico goals in La Liga, and he is already the leading scorer in the history of the fixture in all competitions having netted 21 goals to Ronaldo's 16.
Both Ronaldo and Messi have strong performances to look back on in this fixture, but it's Messi who has the better head-to-head record of the pair. He has produced more goals and assists, and at a faster rate, as well as claiming almost three times as many wins.
Messi v Ronaldo - Clasico comparison (La Liga only)
|123||Mins per goal||147|
|78||Mins per goal/assist||131|
The records are a little closer when using all competitions, especially in the scoring returns, though Messi still holds a healthy advantage in his overall goal involvement and total wins. In the 24 Clasicos in which they have directly faced each other, they have scored 15 goals each.
Messi v Ronaldo - Clasico comparison (all competitions)
|135||Mins per goal||137|
|83||Mins per goal/assist||129|
For Ronaldo, however, this match arrives with an unfamiliar pre-match narrative. It's Real Madrid who are clear at the top of La Liga and Barcelona who are struggling, already throwing away seven points at home this season, more than they have at this stage in any of the past 13 La Liga campaigns.
Indeed, this will be the first time in five La Liga Clasicos that Real Madrid start the game ahead of Barcelona, and only the second time in the past nine. Ronaldo's recent Clasico form is also stronger than Messi's, with four goals in his past five appearances.
As both players have evolved, it is Ronaldo who has become the greater scorer in recent seasons, leading the way over the past three campaigns. Overall, he has scored more goals than Messi in four of the seven La Liga seasons they have played together.
Messi v Ronaldo - La Liga season-by-season comparison
|Season||Messi goals||Ronaldo goals|
While his goals never seem to dry up, however, Ronaldo's overall contribution has become far less rounded than Messi's, as shown by their attacking returns this season. Messi is still involved in most of Barcelona's build-up play, creating chances and beating defenders, while Ronaldo is predominately about the scoring.
Messi v Ronaldo - La Liga 2016/17 comparison
|5.3||Shots per goal||6.2|
|5.7||Shots per 90 mins||6.6|
|1.9||Chances created per 90 mins||1.3|
|51.2||Avg passes per 90 mins||28.6|
|3.6||Succ. dribbles per 90 mins||0.7|
Already six points behind in La Liga, Messi and Barcelona will be desperate to end their rival's current 25-match unbeaten run and claim a fifth win in the past seven Clasicos. Both Messi and Ronaldo have regularly delivered on the big stage for their clubs, and they will be expected to do so once again on Saturday afternoon.