Lionel Messi projected to make up more ground on Cristiano Ronaldo
Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 21-15 Messi
Messi is in action first when Barcelona visit Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. The following day, Ronaldo and Real Madrid are at Malaga.
(Numbers for each player are based on him starting the game.)
2015-16 total goals projection
Ronaldo remains the strong favourite to win the pair's head-to-head scoring battle over the course of the season.
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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.
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."