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Cristiano Ronaldo maintains scoring lead over Lionel Messi in title race

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

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 31-23 Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo  scored his 31st goal in La Liga this season, netting with a simple tap-in in second-half stoppage time as Real Madrid won 5-1 at Getafe. In all, Ronaldo took eight shots, although he managed to get only two on target. 

Lionel Messi ended his scoreless drought at 514 minutes, scoring Barca's only goal in Sunday's 2-1 defeat vs. Valencia. It was also his 500th career goal but it wasn't enough to prevent his side's third straight defeat in La Liga and fourth defeat in five games across all competitions.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in each of his last four games in La Liga.

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: 7/10 -- Saw Getafe's goalkeeper Vicente Guaita make an excellent save in the first half, and had two penalty appeals that were waved off by the ref. Ended up making the scoresheet due to Jese Rodriguez's selflessness in the final minute of the match. Even though his hunger to play every single minute is well known, one wonders whether this would have been a good occasion to rest Ronaldo for the first time of the season.

Lee Roden on Messi: 8/10 -- Much better from the No. 10, who ran into far fewer dead ends than in recent games, and was one of the home team's best players. Scored his 500th senior goal with an excellently timed run into the box and perfect finish, while he also helped create it in the first place with a quick ball into the area where Valencia had least cover. Almost created the equaliser with a near mirror-image move, but Alba couldn't cross accurately this time.

Lionel Messi finally broke his scoreless run but it wasn't enough to earn Barca a point or better vs. Valencia.

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 players return to action Wednesday when Messi and Barcelona visit Deportivo, before Ronaldo and Real Madrid host Villarreal.

The Messi vs. Ronaldo goals-projection model

All season long, ESPN FC, in conjunction with ESPN's Stats & Information 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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