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Cristiano Ronaldo versus Leo Messi - the other Clásico

The individual battle continues, and both will be keen to do something special tonight, especially after their tame performances in recent derbies.

Carlos Forjanes

Every Clásico heralds a new battle between the two biggest stars of world football: Cristiano and Messi. And tonight the expectation is particularly high, given that the two players haven’t made much of a mark on the encounter since 7 October 2012 in the league. That day the Camp Nou was left breathless by a 2-2 draw in which the two strikers bagged the goals. Since then they haven’t been quite at the same level in the Clásicos: Cristiano hasn’t scored in the last two and while Messi did score one in the Bernabéu last season, Madrid, stuffed with subs, still beat them 2-1 (Cristiano only played 33 minutes).

But the players are coming into this game on form. In all competitions Cristiano has scored 41, Messi 31. The Portuguese has just scored a brace against Schalke, the Argentine a hat-trick against Osasuna. Their league stats are formidable. CR7 banging one in every 84 minutes, Messi one every 89.

These two are the howitzers of La Liga. The Real Madrid player has taken most shots in the competition (176) while Messi is second (108). Cristiano will be looking to improve on his already fine record against Barcelona, against whom he’s scored a goal every 146 minutes, only bettered by Lazcano (101’), Pahíño (113’), Puskas (116’) and Zamorano (127’).

Anything else? Oh yes, today is the first Clásico featuring Ronaldo after his triumph in the Ballon d’Or 2013, having beaten Messi. Today might be the first big statement for the Ballon d’Or 2014.

Every calendar year is a pounding battle, week in week out, between the two to see who can score most. So far in 2014 Messi is ahead, having scored 17 (10 league, two in Champions League and five in the Copa) to Cristiano’s 14 (seven in the Liga, two in Champions League, three in the Copa and two with Portugal). Ronaldo though missed three games suspended after his sending off in San Mamés (missing games against Villarreal, Getafe and Elche). In 2013 Cristiano scored 69 to Messi’s 45.