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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi closes in on Cristiano Ronaldo; both to score this weekend

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 23-19 Messi

After scoring four goals in two games, Lionel Messi has drawn to within four goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, who only managed a solitary strike in the last week.

Messi scored once in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Sevilla before notching a hat trick in a 5-1 triumph at Rayo Vallecano. 

Meanwhile, Ronaldo was kept off the score board in the Madrid derby as Atletico prevailed 1-0. The Portuguese did score in a 3-1 victory at Levante four days later.

This weekend, both men are expected to score, with Ronaldo slightly likelier to find the net, according to ESPN's projection model.

Ronaldo is in action first, when Real host Celta Vigo. The following day, Messi and Barcelona visit Eibar.

(Numbers for each player are based on him starting the game.)

030316 Messi Ronaldo Upcoming
Last season, Messi scored twice at Eibar, while Ronaldo grabbed a hat trick vs. Celta Vigo.

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.

030316 Messi Ronaldo Season
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 decreased. He is still predicted to end the season with an impressive haul, but Ronaldo is tipped for higher numbers.

030316 Messi Ronaldo Milestones
Messi has 305 career goals in La Liga. Ronaldo has 248.

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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