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Lionel Messi reduces Cristiano Ronaldo's league goals lead to seven

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 31-24 Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo's goals lead has been cut to seven by Lionel Messi after the latest round of games in La Liga.

Messi scored Barcelona's sixth in an 8-0 thrashing of Deportivo. The Argentine forward, who also claimed a pair of assists, got two of the four shots he took on target. 

Meanwhile, Ronaldo failed to find the net in Real Madrid's 3-0 win against Villarreal, despite having seven shots, just two of which he got on goal.

After failing to score in his previous three league games, Lionel Messi, right, has now netted in back-to-back matches.

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: 6/10 -- He took a crunching early tackle from Mario Gaspar in good humour, drew a save from Sergio Asenjo after 10 minutes and was involved in the first goal. However, Ronaldo found a worthy adversary in Eric Bailly, with the Ivory Coast defender thwarting the Portuguese several times. Ronaldo reverted to the pot-shot option as a result, sending a few into the upper tier.

Lee Roden on Messi: 8/10 -- Luis Suarez stole the limelight but Messi was immense for Barca, too. He produced a tremendous touch for the Uruguayan's second in the first half, a fine through ball for his third after the break and delivered a great pass to Neymar for Suarez's fourth. Eventually Messi got his goal as well, lofting the ball into an empty net after some good work from Suarez.

After scoring in each of his last four league games, Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score.

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 on Saturday. Ronaldo and Real Madrid visit Rayo Vallecano, before Messi and Barcelona host Sporting Gijon.

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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