Lionel Messi keeps up with Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the European Golden Shoe

The Argentine star scored both goals in his side's 2-0 victory over Racing Santander, but could not make up ground as the Portuguese attacker bagged a brace against Real Betis
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace in Real Madrid's 3-2 win against Real Betis to maintain the four-point gap between himself and Lionel Messi, who also hit the net twice in Barcelona's 2-0 triumph over Racing Santander.

Robin van Persie's Arsenal play on Monday against Newcastle, and the same goes for Burak Yilmaz's Trabzonspor who host Sivasspor, with the Turkish forward hoping to leap above Aleksandrs Cekulajevs in the standings.

Mario Gomez brought his tally for the season to 21 with a hat-trick in Bayern's 7-1 drubbing of Hoffenheim on Saturday. This was closely followed on Sunday by Wayne Rooney, who scored both goals in Manchester United's 2-0 win at home to West Brom.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar also netted at the weekend; the Swede scoring a superb goal in Milan's 2-0 win over Lecce, and the Dutch striker bagging a penalty in Schalke's 3-1 victory over Hamburg.

Finally, Seydou Doumbia also added to his tally by grabbing an early goal in CSKA Moscow's 1-1 derby draw with Dinamo Moscow.

Rank Player          
Country Club League Weight Goals Points
1 C. Ronaldo POR
Real Madrid
L. Messi
ESP 2 30
R. v Persie
Arsenal ENG 2 25
A Cekulajevs LVA Trans* EST
B. Yilmaz TUR
1.5 30
6 M. Gomez GER Bayern GER 2 21
W. Rooney ENG Man Utd ENG 2 20
Ibrahimovic SWE AC Milan ITA 2 19
K. Huntelaar NED Schalke GER 2 19
 10 S. Doumbia CIV CSKA RUS 1.5 25 37.5

* = league season finished

History & How It Works

In 1967-68, French football magazine L'Equipe opted to hand out an award to the top goalscorer in all European leagues for his good performances during the season. Between 1968 and 1991, high profile names such as Eusebio, Gerd Muller, Ian Rush and Marco van Basten won the coveted trophy.

However, the gap between big and small leagues started to grow in the early 90s and L'Equipe decided to make the competition unofficial after the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) issued a protest in 1991. Darko Pancev won the award that season with 34 goals, but the CFA claimed that a player had scored 40 goals in Cyprus that term.

Adidas, sponsor of the awards, still handed out the trophy until 1996 before European Sports Magazine (with L'Equipe as a member) decided to make the title official again. ESM divided all European leagues in three groups according to strength, and attached to each group a quotient by which the number of goals is multiplied to obtain the player's rating. The European Golden Shoe was thus no longer necessarily handed to the top goalscorer, but to the player with the most points.

The weightings are determined by the league's ranking on the Uefa coefficients, which in turn depend on the results of each league's clubs in European competition over the previous five seasons. Goals scored in the top five leagues according to the Uefa coefficients are multiplied by a factor of two, and goals scored in the leagues ranked six to 21 are multiplied by 1.5. Goals in all other leagues are all worth one single point.

This measure has prevented players from so-called weaker leagues from winning the European Golden Shoe, since a goal scored in, for example, Armenia, Estonia or Azerbaijan, carries less weight than a goal scored in Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga or the Premier League.

Players such as Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Forlan and Lionel Messi have won the European Golden Shoe in the past few seasons.