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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Ronaldo has a better chance of scoring than Messi this weekend - projection

Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo is the modern game's greatest individual rivalry.

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 27-22 Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are separated by just five league goals, but ESPN's projection model predicts that the Real Madrid man is more likely to score this weekend.

Both men play on Sunday. Messi is in action first, when Barcelona visit Villarreal. Ronaldo and Madrid host Sevilla later in the day.

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

Messi Ronaldo weekend 20160318
Last season, Messi did not score at Villarreal and Ronaldo did not play against Sevilla.

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.

Messi Ronaldo season 20160318
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.

Messi Ronaldo milestones 20160318
Messi has 308 career goals in La Liga. Ronaldo has 252.

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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