Messi vs Ronaldo: Which attacker outclasses the other in six key categories?

How do Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo compare ahead of El Clasico?

Barcelona take on eternal rivals Real Madrid in El Clasico this Sunday at the Nou Camp with both teams seeking an all-important victory in the race to win La Liga.

The Catalans currently top the table with 65 points from 27 matches, one point clear of Los Blancos, who before recently had led the league for much of the season.

Both enter the contest in contrasting form, and the same can be said of their leading stars Lionel Messi and Portuguese ace Cristiano Ronaldo.

It was the latter who claimed the 2014 Ballon d’Or trophy due to his phenomenal early season exploits, but how do the pair compare now given Messi’s unbelievable run since the turn of the year?

  GoalsAssistsShots per GameKey Passes per GameTake-ons per GameWas Fouled per GamePass Success % per GameLa Liga Starts
Lionel Messi 32 14 4.8 2.6 4.7 2.2 82.2% 26
Cristiano Ronaldo 30 11 6.2 2.3 1.6 1.6 81.3% 24

As per the table above, the Argentine superstar’s 2015 form has been so good that he has come back to eclipse his rival in as many as six key categories over the course of the season.

The four-time Ballon d’Or winner currently leads the goalscoring charts 32 to 30, while he also shows himself to be a true team player with 14 assists – the most in La Liga.

Moreover, Messi has brought back the swagger from his previous years under Pep Guardiola and his dribbling skills – illustrated by his nutmeg on Manchester City’s James Milner in midweek - have been utterly sublime.

Over the course of the campaign, he averages a league high 4.7 successful dribbles and records 2.6 key passes per match – both higher than Ronaldo.

The former Manchester United star does come out in two categories, recording more shots per match and averaging more aerial winners, though the latter is unsurprising given his clear advantage in athleticism.

However, in possession Ronaldo loses out to his rival as Messi records a better pass accuracy while also proving more menacing for defenders, winning more free-kicks in the final third.

The huge encounter at the Nou Camp will go some way to defining who will win La Liga this season, and if it comes down to a personal battle between the two superstars, on current showing a wise man would be putting his money on the hosts to come out victorious.

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