La Liga Betting Special: Why Messi could edge Cristiano Ronaldo once more in battle to be top goalscorer

With the Clasico stars resuming their personal duel in the quest to be crowned the Pichichi, Phil Kitromilides believes the value lies with backing the Barcelona star
After they both scored more goals than most other sides in the Spanish top flight last season, it is hardly surprising to find that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two frontrunners in the market for this season's Pichichi.

The Real Madrid forward is priced just ahead of the Barcelona ace, reflective of the odds in the outright market for the title where the Blancos are marginal favourites.

The Portugal international can be backed at 11/10 (2.10) with Paddy Power to be top goalscorer, while Messi, who claimed the crown last season, is offered at 6/5 (2.20).

Choosing between these two giants of the Spanish game is an extremely difficult task, yet of the two it would seem that Messi offers better value.

Though David Villa is back from a long absence and available at 10/1 (11.00), Messi still remains the fulcrum of Barcelona's attack and the primary source of their goal output.

The Argentine netted 50 times in the league last season to finish top of the charts, but there was no other Barcelona player in the top 10.

Madrid, meanwhile, had three players in the top five (Ronaldo, Benzema and Higuain), demonstrating that the goals scored by the Blancos tend to be shared out more.

Therefore, backing Messi to be top goalscorer again seems to be the logical choice when faced with a decision between him and Ronaldo.

However for those looking further down the market for some value, the price of 16/1 (17.00) on Karim Benzema to be top goal scorer could be an interesting value bet, especially if backed each-way.

The powerful Frenchman has matured and developed into one of Europe's most menacing strikers and has fitted in perfectly into Real Madrid's system.

If Ronaldo continues the trait we saw last year of giving more and more assists rather than going for goal continuously, then Benzema could be well placed to reap the rewards, and after 21 league goals last season, the 24-year-old will surely keep getting better and better.

Lionel Messi top scorer at 6/5 (2.20) with Paddy Power
Karim Benzema top scorer at 16/1 (17.00) each-way with Paddy Power

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.