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4:30 PM UTC
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Chicago Fire
Houston Dynamo
8:00 PM UTC
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Atlanta United FC
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12:00 AM UTC May 21, 2018
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 2
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi edges closer to Cristiano Ronaldo in scoring race

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 22-16 Messi

Lionel Messi edged closer to Cristiano Ronaldo's goal total at the weekend.

Messi curled in a superbly taken free kick to draw Barcelona level in the first half vs. Sevilla of a match they would go on to win 2-1. In total, he took six shots, of which two were on goal.

Ronaldo had a frustrating afternoon as Real Madrid were beaten by their city rivals Atletico in the derby. The Portuguese forward got three of his seven shots on target but was denied repeatedly by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Lionel Messi has scored four goals in his last four league games.

Ratings and review

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

Rob Train on Ronaldo: 7/10 -- Responsible for all three of Real's efforts on target and tried all afternoon to make something out of nothing. Lacking any meaningful support, though, Ronaldo was isolated and desperately missed his usual conspirator on the left hand side, Marcelo.

Francesc Tomas on Messi: 9/10 -- The five-time Ballon d'Or winner began proceedings by hitting the post from with an audacious, curling shot from the corner spot early in the first half. Shortly after, he scored a glorious free-kick equaliser when his team needed him the most -- his 30th goal of the season and 16th in La Liga.

Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to score in 13 of Real Madrid's 26 league games this season.

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

Both men will be back in action in midweek. First, Ronaldo and Real visit Levante on Wednesday and then, the following day, Messi and Barcelona are at Rayo Vallecano.

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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