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Messi and Ronaldo each projected to score as La Liga campaign winds down

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 31-25 Messi

With two rounds of games remaining in La Liga's season, Cristiano Ronaldo has a six-goal lead on Lionel Messi in the pair's head-to-head scoring battle. ESPN's projection model predicts that Messi, who has scored three goals in his past four matches, has a great chance to score a multi-goal game when Barcelona host crosstown rivals Espanyol. But Ronaldo, too, is expected to get on the score sheet when Valencia visit the Bernabeu.

Numbers for Messi are based on him starting the game.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo projected weekend goals
Last season, Messi scored a hat trick when Espanyol travelled to the Camp Nou while Ronaldo was held scoreless at home by Valencia.

2015-16 total goals projection

Ronaldo remains the strong favourite to win the pair's head-to-head scoring battle during the course of the season.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo projected La Liga goals tally
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.

2015-16 milestone projection

Messi missed two months of the season with injury, which decreased his chances to hit various goal landmarks. He is still predicted to end the season with an impressive haul, but Ronaldo is tipped for higher numbers.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo 2015-16 La Liga scoring milestones
Messi has 311 career goals in La Liga. Ronaldo has 256.

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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