By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
Diego Costa or Cristiano Ronaldo? With much more than bragging rights at stake, Atletico and Real Madrid meet in a crucial clash in La Liga on Sunday, led into battle by their flagship footballers.
So who will come out on top on Sunday? Here, Goal takes a statistical look at the pair's performances in all competitions so far in 2013-14 to assess which player has been more effective this term.
Diego Costa has been the inspiration in Atletico's impressive league run and taken over from former team-mate Radamel Falcao, who left to join Monaco in the summer.
Costa, who is set to represent Spain in the World Cup, netted 20 goals in 44 appearances for Diego Simeone's side last season - including the equaliser in Atletico's Copa del Rey victory over Madrid at the Bernabeu in May.
This term, the 25-year-old has scored 27 goals in 36 games across four competitions: La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League and the Spanish Supercopa. Among those, seven have been opening goals and seven winning strikes. He was most notably the decisive scorer against AC Milan last month, Madrid in the 1-0 league victory at the Bernabeu in September and the clincher at San Mames - where Atleti became (and remain) the first visiting side to defeat Athletic Bilbao at their ground.
|36 in all competitions||GAMES||33 in all competitons|
|3||VS TOP FOUR||2|
|112.33||MINS PER GOAL||79.81|
"Diego Costa is still growing and there is no limit to where he can go," Simeone said of his striker earlier this season. "The sky's the limit." And goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois added: "He gives us so much - he is so important to us."
In total, the striker has scored 27 times in 3,033 minutes - a goal every 112.33 minutes for the Rojiblancos.
Despite scoring fewer goals in 2014, however, Ronaldo remains more effective, with 36 strikes in 33 games for Madrid - one every 79.81 minutes overall.
The Portuguese has netted just two against top four teams (Barcelona, Atletico and Athletic) and both of those came from the penalty spot at the Vicente Calderon in the sides' recent derby clash. He has, however, scored three in two against Juventus in the Champions League. Among the 36, 10 were opening goals and five were winners.
The 29-year-old also boasts more assists (14 in total), with two of those arriving against Schalke in an impressive 6-1 win in the Champions League on Wednesday.
"Ronaldo was great; he was especially motivated (after his recent ban) and he showed that," Ancelotti explained after that match. Meanwhile, Schalke skipper Benedikt Howedes simply said: "He showed he is the best in the world."
The stats seem to back up that statement at the moment for the current Ballon d'Or winner, but Diego Costa will be keen to have the last laugh again in the derby on Sunday, in what is a fundamental fixture for Atleti in the race for La Liga.
So which of the two will come out on top this time as the pair renew rivalries for the latest chapter of the capital clash? Over to you guys.
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