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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi can close on Cristiano Ronaldo but both will score - projection

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

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 19-12 Messi

After each man failed to find the net in his last league outing, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi should get back to scoring form this weekend, according to ESPN's projection model, with the Argentine slightly more likely to do so.

Ronaldo and Real Madrid are in action first when they host Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. The following day, Messi and Barcelona are at home to Celta Vigo.

(Numbers for each player are based on him...

 By Rob Train

Zinedine Zidane cruise control at Real Madrid to be tested against Bilbao

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane gave his reaction following Luka Modric's late winner against Granada.

A match against Athletic Bilbao is never an easy one. Barcelona can attest to that after finding themselves on the wrong end of a 4-0 Aritz Aduriz-inspired hiding in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup last August. In the return leg, Barca were again unable to beat the Lions, who lifted their first trophy in 31 years at the expense of the treble winners. Not a bad start to the season.

But Athletic's early commitments in 2015-16 were considerable. Bilbao had played eight games already by the end...

Real Madrid's La Liga title bid still on if they take advantage of a soft fixture

Marca's annual awards ceremony in Madrid saw Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Carlo Ancelotti receive accolades.

In the final minutes of the past weekend's match in Granada, right before Luka Modric scored the winner for Real Madrid, the faces of the Madridistas showed stress. Every missed pass, every wrong move, every misunderstanding between players generated exaggerated gestural reactions. The team's body language was clear: They were feeling a huge amount of pressure.

Under normal circumstances, a trip to the stunning city in Andalusia should not represent such a huge weight on Madrid's shoulders. In fact,...

 By Rob Train

Real Madrid's poor player decisions raise Castilla questions

Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema have become two of Europe's most prolific strikers this season.

Real Madrid's signing of Lucas Silva in January 2015 was heralded as something of a coup. The defensive midfielder had recently been named the best in his position in the Brazilian top flight as Cruzeiro claimed the 2014 Brasileiro title and the 21-year-old apparently had the world at his feet.

Silva was drafted into the side quickly enough, playing 16 minutes against Deportivo before being handed a full 90 in the Champions League last-16 first leg against Schalke, a 2-0 away victory. The return...

Luka Modric is Real Madrid's most important player in midfield

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane encourages Croatian midfielder Luka Modric to take more shots.

The situation felt eerily familiar. Just like other significant matches in the previous calendar year, the usually unstoppable scoring machine that are Real Madrid were struggling to find the opposition's box, let alone generate a clear chance to take the lead. After 84 minutes, they were being held 1-1 in Granada, and most of their supporters could see their already slim La Liga title hopes vanishing into thin air.

From the start of 2015 and under three different coaches -- this includes, a bit...

 By Rob Train

Marcelo's injury exposes Zinedine Zidane's lack of left-back options

ESPN FC's Paul Mariner says Real Madrid was fortunate to take the lead in an even game at Granada Sunday.

Luka Modric rightly took the plaudits after Real Madrid's battling 2-1 win over a Granada side that, on the evidence of Sunday's performance, should be a lot further from the bottom of the Liga pile than they are.

The Croatian has evolved at the Bernabeu to the extent that his should be -- if it isn't already -- the first name on the team-sheet. That Zinedine Zidane celebrated Modric's goal with gusto is no surprise.

Victories for Barcelona and Atletico meant the pressure was on to dig out a result...