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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to score this weekend - projection

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 14-6 Messi

Two days before they go head-to-head -- with Neymar completing the shortlist -- for the Ballon d'Or, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be on the hunt for goals in La Liga.

On Saturday, Messi will be in action first when Barcelona take on Granada. Later, Ronaldo and Real Madrid host Deportivo.

According to ESPN's projection model, Messi is more likely to find the net than his great rival but both men have a great opportunity to boost their scoring numbers.

(Please note that the numbers for each player are based on him starting the game.)

Messi Ronaldo weekend 20160107
Last season, Messi scored twice against Granada. Ronaldo did not score against Deportivo.

2015-16 total goals projection

Ronaldo, who now leads his great rival by eight goals, remains the overwhelming favourite to win the head-to-head battle over the course of the season.

Messi Ronaldo milestones 20160107
Between them, Ronaldo and Messi have won the past six Pichichi awards, given to the leading scorer in La Liga.

What do you think?

We want your input! Vote and let us know who you think will score the most goals this season, using the hashtag #ESPNFCMessiRonaldo.

2015-16 milestone projection

By missing two months of the season through injury, Messi's chances to hit various goal landmarks have decreased. He is still predicted to end the season with an impressive haul, but Ronaldo is tipped for higher numbers.

Messi Ronaldo milestones 20160107
Messi has 292 career goals in La Liga. Ronaldo has 239.

How does the projection model work?

Here's a brief explanation from its creator, ESPN Stats & Information analytics specialist Zach Bradshaw:

"These projections account for the historical performance [goals scored and minutes played] of the two players since 2010, strength of opposing defences faced [measured by SPI defensive rating], game location and the potential for injury or missing games. Based on these inputs, the predictor will estimate the chance of each player scoring any number of goals for each remaining game. From this, we can project the total number of goals scored, hat tricks and the chance of each player accruing more goals than the other over the course of the entire Liga season."


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