Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been outdoing Real Madrid nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of this week’s Clasico, according to the numbers.

By Lorlornyofm April 22, 2017 08:19

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been outdoing Real Madrid nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of this week’s Clasico, according to the numbers.


When Real Madrid host Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, two of the best players the game has ever seen will be looking to lead their respective teams to victory.

Cristiano Ronaldo is without doubt Madrid’s go-to guy when it matters most, while Lionel Messi has developed into the Catalans’ undisputed star man since making his senior debut in 2004-05.

The two have dominated the sport like no others before them, winning nine Ballons d’Or between them since 2008. Who is the better player of the two, though?

Fans of the Argentine will point to his five Ballon d’Or awards and his numerous trophies with Barcelona.

Those in favour of the Portuguese will highlight the fact he has not only done it in LaLiga with Madrid, but has also enjoyed success with Manchester United in the Premier League and led his national team to their first major trophy.

It is probably fair to say, however, that there is no definite answer to the question as to which of the two is the standout star.

That being said, a look at their statistics over the course of the 2016-17 campaign gives a good indication as to who is in better shape heading into this weekend’s Clasico.

Crunching the numbers

Games: Ronaldo 38 Messi 45
Goals: Ronaldo 31 Messi 45
Goals per game: Ronaldo 0.82 Messi 1
Total shots: Ronaldo 220 Messi 160
Shots per game: Ronaldo 5.79 Messi 3.55
Shots on target: Ronaldo 80 Messi 85
Shots on target per game: Ronaldo 2.11 Messi 1.88
Percentage of shots on target: Ronaldo 36.4 Messi 53.1
Assists: Ronaldo 11 Messi 14
Assists per game: Ronaldo 0.29 Messi 0.31

The first stat that immediately catches the attention is the fact that Messi is outscoring Ronaldo by 14 goals. Whereas the Madrid star beat his Barcelona rival by 51 to 41 goals over 2015-16, he has been unable to keep up with the 29-year-old this season for now.

That is partially down to the fact that Messi has clearly stepped up his game a notch when it comes to goals, but also also showcases Ronaldo’s decline in front of goal, regardless of his hat-trick in Tuesday’s heroic Champions League win over Bayern Munich. Now, one should not ignore the fact that Messi has played more matches than Ronaldo, but his goals-to-game ratio still puts him well ahead of the Portugal international – and that’s in spite of him drawing a blank against Juventus this week.

Ronaldo’s deficit is not for a lack of trying, however, as the 32-year-old goes for goal much more often than Messi, notching up over two shots per game more than the Barcelona man. But whereas Ronaldo gets just 36 per cent of his shots on target, Messi directs over half of his attempts goalwards.

When it comes to assists, the gap might not be as significant as with goals, but Messi leads the way in this area of the game, too, creating three more goals than Ronaldo, although this can largely be explained by the difference in games played.

The Clasico is an entirely different matter than any other game, though, so it is worth looking at the stats from meetings between both arch-rivals to see what we can expect from Messi and Ronaldo at the weekend.

Clasico figures

Games: Ronaldo 26 Messi 33
Goals: Ronaldo 16 Messi 21
Goals per game: Ronaldo 0.61 Messi 0.64
Total shots: Ronaldo 121 Messi 118
Shots per game: Ronaldo 4.65 Messi 3.57
Shots on target: Ronaldo 52 Messi 52
Shots on target per game: Ronaldo 2 Messi 1.57
Percentage of shots on target: Ronaldo 43.0 Messi 44.1
Assists: Ronaldo 1 Messi 13
Assists per game: Ronaldo 0.03 Messi 0.40

Again, Messi holds the edge over Ronaldo when it comes to goals, with the Argentine being the all-time top goalscorer in the Clasico with 21 strikes. But the difference in goals can be easily explained by the amount of games played by each forward, with there being just a minor gap of 0.03 when we look at their goals-per-game ratios.

And Ronaldo is once more the most trigger-happy in front of goal of the two, although his Clasico figure is considerably lower than he has been averaging this term, which is hardly a surprise when you bear in mind Barcelona are among Madrid’s strongest opponents.

The most remarkable stat, however, is the big difference in assists between both stars. Whereas Messi has set up 13 goals throughout his Clasico career, an average of 0.40 per game, Ronaldo has created just one goal in 26 matches against Barcelona.

The conclusion to be drawn based on those figures is that Messi has not only been the most decisive of the duo in front of goal this season, but has also played a bigger role in the Clasico over the past decade or so.

It is now up to Ronaldo to prove the stats wrong and guide Madrid to victory, thus handing them a potentially decisive lead in LaLiga.

Source: beIN Sports

By Lorlornyofm April 22, 2017 08:19
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