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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Cristiano Ronaldo tipped to extend lead over Lionel Messi - projection

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 16-11 Messi

After Cristiano Ronaldo's scoring lead was cut to five by Lionel Messi last weekend, the Portuguese star has a great chance to further the distance from his great rival, according to ESPN's projection model.

Messi is in action this weekend as Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in a top-of-the-table clash. The following day, Ronaldo and Real Madrid are at home to Espanyol.

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

Messi Ronaldo weekend 20160128
Last season, Messi netted once at home vs. Atletico Madrid, while Ronaldo did not score against Espanyol.

2015-16 total goals projection

Ronaldo has a five-goal lead over Messi and remains the strong favourite to win the pair's head-to-head battle over the course of the season.

Messi Ronaldo season 20160128
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.

Who will score more La Liga goals this season?

2015-16 milestone projection

By missing two months of the season with 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 20160128
Messi has 297 career goals in La Liga. Ronaldo has 241.

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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