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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Messi projected to score midweek, while Ronaldo could be held

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 31-23 Messi

With five games to go, Cristiano Ronaldo has an eight-goal lead over Lionel Messi and ESPN's projection model predicts the Argentine may well cut into the advantage of his great rival.

Messi's Barcelona will be in action first, traveling to Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday. Ronaldo and Real Madrid will kick off in the minutes following the conclusion of Barca's fixture, as Los Blancos play host to Villarreal.

(Numbers for each player are based on him starting the game.)

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo upcoming match projections
Last season, Messi scored a hat trick at Deportivo La Coruna and Ronaldo netted once when Villarreal came to the capital.

2015-16 total goals projection

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

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo 2015-16 La Liga goal projections.
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 season goal projections.
Messi has 309 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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