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Lionel Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo: Who will win the key battle in Barcelona v Real Madrid

Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo
Image: Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo

Will Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo come out on top when Barcelona face Real Madrid on Sunday? We check the stats...

Barcelona host Real Madrid this Sunday, live on Sky Sports, in the 238th installment of the Clasico. Leading the lines for both sides will be the two biggest names in world football - Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - going head-to-head for the 30th time in this fixture.

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Messi has continued to dominate the Spanish top tier this season, and is top of the pile in every major attacking statistic. He currently has more goals, assists, chances created, successful dribbles and touches in the opposition's box than any other player.

Lionel Messi's sensational scoring streak

La Liga 2017/18 Total La Liga Rank
Goals 32 1st
Assists 12 1st
Chances created 82 1st
Successful dribbles 172 1st
Touches in opp. box 282 1st

Messi, whose 32 goals mean it's now nine straight seasons he's reached over 25 goals in La Liga, recorded his 41st career hat-trick for Barcelona last weekend, putting him in red-hot form ahead of this match.

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Watch Luis Suarez's delightfully lofted pass set up Lionel Messi to extend Barcelona's lead against Deportivo.

The Argentina forward is also the record goal-scorer in Clasico history, finding the net on 25 occasions - seven more than any other player.

Clasico top scorers - all competitions

Player Games Goals Games per goal
Lionel Messi 37 25 1.5
Alfredo Di Stefano 30 18 1.7
Cristiano Ronaldo 29 17 1.7
Raul 37 15 2.5

While Messi's form has been constant this season, Ronaldo started off in uncharacteristically wayward fashion in front of goal, scoring in just three La Liga games up until January 21.

Since then, though, no player in Europe's top-5 leagues comes anywhere close to his level of potency.

Also See:

Most goals in Europe's top five leagues - since January 21

Player Goals Games played
Cristiano Ronaldo 20 11
Lionel Messi 15 14
Antoine Griezmann 13 13
Robert Lewandowski 13 11
Mohamed Salah 13 12

Ronaldo has struck an incredible 20 goals in his last 11 La Liga appearances, five more than any other player, and generally in fewer appearances. He's currently scored in each of his last eight appearances, his best run of goals in consecutive La Liga games since 2014.

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Ronaldo's late flick from Modric's shot rescues a point for Real Madrid.

While the Portugal captain began slowly in La Liga, this early-season lull didn't transcend to other competitions. He's currently top scorer in the Champions League, with 15 goals - five more than any other player - and provided crucial strikes in the FIFA Club World Cup.

He's one goal shy of Messi and Mohamed Salah for most goals in all competitions, but has made notably fewer appearances and boasts the best minutes-per-goal return of all leading scorers:

Most goals in all comps - for clubs in Europe's top five leagues

Player Goals Games played Mins per goal
Lionel Messi 43 51 99 mins
Mohamed Salah 43 49 91 mins
Cristiano Ronaldo 42 41 83 mins
Ciro Immobile 41 46 89 mins
Robert Lewandowski 39 45 90 mins

With Barcelona's La Liga title already secured, Real Madrid will be fully focused on spoiling their rival's hopes of going a full season unbeaten.

One thing this fixture always produces is goals, with no goalless draw in the past 44 meetings, dating back to long before Messi and Ronaldo began locking horns in this fixture. Expect that trend to continue once again this Sunday.

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