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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Cristiano Ronaldo 2-1 Lionel Messi: Madrid man's goal lead stands at eight

Each week, ESPN FC projects and reviews the scoring battle between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in La Liga.

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 21-13 Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both scored at the weekend, but the Portuguese netted once more than his Argentine rival, which means he increased his lead to eight in the head-to-head scoring battle between the two.

Ronaldo scored after three minutes and with three minutes remaining as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao. In all, the 31-year-old took seven shots, five of which were on target.

Messi opened the scoring in Barcelona's 6-1 win over Celta Vigo. He finished with three shots -- two of which were on target -- but passed off the opportunity for a second when he passed a penalty into the path of Luis Suarez, who scored.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 11 goals in his past six league games at the Bernabeu.

Ratings and review

Here's what our Real Madrid and Barcelona club bloggers had to say about each man's performance.

Ed Alvarez on Ronaldo: 8/10 -- Started off impressively with a great goal and a few dribbles that took us back to previous seasons, in which Ronaldo owned the left side. Assisted Toni Kroos for the third but then took half an hour off only to reappear in the final 20 minutes with a shot that hit the post and, eventually, his second goal. If he can replicate this form away from the Bernabeu, Real Madrid can mount a challenge for the title.

Lee Roden on Messi: 10/10 -- Scored the opener from a free kick, created Barca's second with an ingenious dink, then did most of the work for the third by wriggling away from challenges and threading a precise pass to Neymar. Incredibly, the No.10 wasn't finished there, as he went on to win the penalty that led to the home team's fourth. The way he took the spot kick was equally impressive, with Messi's nudge into Luis Suarez's path a moment of sheer genius.

Lionel Messi's latest goal took his career tally in La Liga to 299.

Socially speaking

How did Twitter react to Ronaldo and Messi's latest displays?

What do you think about Messi and Ronaldo? Let us know using the hashtag #ESPNFCMessiRonaldo. Plus, tell us who will win this season's scoring battle in our poll.

The next league game

Messi will play twice before Ronaldo is next in action. Barcelona visit Sporting Gijon to play their game in hand on Wednesday and then are at Las Palmas three days later. Next Sunday, Ronaldo and Real Madrid travel to Malaga.

The Messi vs. Ronaldo goals-projection model

All season long, ESPN FC, in conjunction with ESPN's Stats & Info group, will forecast the scoring battle in La Liga between Messi and Ronaldo using a specially designed projection model.

Here's an explanation from the model's creator, 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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