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Goal.com takes a look at the league performances of the influential duo in the first month of 2012, as Real Madrid increase their advantage over Barcelona at the top of La Liga

ANALYSIS
Compiled by Paul Macdonald & Ben Hayward

As part of our monthly series, Goal.com compiles the statistical data, expert analysis, and progressive season records in La Liga on two of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

August/September Head-to-Head: Matchdays 1-5
October Head-to-Head: Matchday 6-10
November Head-to-Head: Matchday 11-13
December Head-to-Head: Matchday 14-16

LA LIGA: ROUND 17




vs

ESPANYOL
January 8
Cornella-El Prat



RESULT Espanyol 1-1 Barcelona
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 94
Goals 0
Assists 0
Shots
1
Shots on goal 0
Passes 58
Passes completed
  45
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

7.5
'Penalised for handball when he was gifted ball by Cristian and squared for Cesc to roll into the empty net early on. Wasn't himself and lost a lot of balls, but still hit the post in the second half from a tight angle. Failed to control when all alone and clean through in the final minute. Likely to win the Ballon d'Or on Monday, but this wasn't the best example of his talents.'




vs

GRANADA
January 7
Santiago Bernabeu



RESULT Real Madrid 5-1 Granada
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 92
Goals 1
Assists 0
Shots
10
Shots on goal 1
Passes   56
Passes completed
  50
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

6.5

'The Portuguese attacker looked bright in patches but he did not have his finishing boots as he fired several shots well off target. However, the former Manchester United man did grab his goal in the 89th minute and played a part in setting up Benzema's opener.'
TICS
LA LIGA: ROUND 18



vs

REAL BETIS
January 15
Camp Nou


RESULT Barcelona 4-2 Real Betis
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 92
Goals 2
Assists 0
Shots
5
Shots on goal 3
Passes   62
Passes completed   58
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

7.5
'Not his best game, but he still scored twice. Clinically latched onto Alexis' pass to beat Casto for the first and added the second from the spot late on. Also had two or three trademark bursts through the visitors' defence after showing off his Ballon d'Or before kick-off.'




vs

MALLORCA
January 14
Iberostar Stadium




RESULT Mallorca 1-2 Real Madrid
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 95
Goals 0
Assists 0
Shots
3
Shots on goal 2
Passes   32
Passes completed   24
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

7.0
'Very quiet in the opening half an hour. His speculative free-kick from distance on 32 minutes, Madrid's first effort on target, summed up a disappointing half for Mourinho's side. Played better in the second period and came within inches of scoring late on with another blistering effort from a long way out, but the crossbar thwarted him on this occasion.'

LA LIGA: ROUND 19



vs

MALAGA
January 22
La Rosaleda


RESULT Malaga 1-4 Barcelona
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 92
Goals 3
Assists 0
Shots
8
Shots on goal 6
Passes   80
Passes completed   71
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

9.0
Top of the Match
'Put Barcelona ahead with a fantastic header in the first half, added an even better second with a slalom run and finish, then a sensational third as he left four Malaga defenders in his wake before beating Caballero. Also saw a free-kick hit the bar and rebound onto the goal line. Quite brilliant.'



vs

ATHLETIC BILBAO
January 22
Santiago Bernabeu



RESULT Real Madrid 4-1 Athletic Bilbao
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 94
Goals 2
Assists 0
Shots
6
Shots on goal 2
Passes 45
Passes completed   34
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

8.0

'Showed signs of petulance in the first half when the game was in a stalemate. However, when called upon, showed incredible mental strength to emphatically dispatch two penalties to earn himself a brace and drive Madrid on to victory.'

LA LIGA: ROUND 20



vs

VILLARREAL
January 28
El Madrigal


RESULT Villarreal 0-0 Barcelona
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 93
Goals 0
Assists 0
Shots
3
Shots on goal 0
Passes   45
Passes completed   34
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

6.5

'Will have been disappointed not to convert any one of a host of chances that came his way in the game, although a number of his efforts were kept out by some brilliant saves from Lopez in the Villarreal goal. Lobbed just wide in the first half, and lacked his usual fluency.'




vs

ZARAGOZA
January 28
Santiago Bernabeu



RESULT Real Madrid 3-1 Zaragoza
INDIVIDUAL MATCH STATS
Minutes played 93
Goals 1
Assists 0
Shots
6
Shots on goal 1
Passes 41
Passes completed   34
 GOAL.COM PLAYER RATING

7.0
'Shot just wide with an early free-kick, then produced a great cross a little later to set up Benzema for a header. Headed over the bar himself from a Kaka cross short of the half-hour mark. Was then off target with a free-kick from 20 yards late in the first period. Finished off a wonderful team move to make it 2-1 in the second period, had a penalty appeal turned down and was also booked for a late challenge on Obradovic.'


JANUARY STATISTICS

         

371 MINUTES PLAYED
374
5 GOALS
4
1 PENALTIES
2
2 ASSISTS 0
17 / 9 (52.9%)
TOTAL SHOTS / ON GOAL
25 / 6 (24%)
245 / 206 (84.1%)
PASSES / COMPLETED 174 / 142 (81.6%)
7.63 GOAL.COM
AVERAGE RATING
7.13
22 2011-12 LA LIGA GOALS 24
34 (36)
2011-12 COMPETITIVE GOALS (APPEARANCES)
31 (31)
http://i1.goal.com/files/images/stats/goal/team-logos/1/451_48x48.jpg

EXPERT ANALYSIS
Paul Macdonald | Goal.com Deputy Editor

In the final reckoning, January is likely to prove a pivotal period in the destination of the Primera Division title, and the form of Messi and Barcelona away from Camp Nou could prove to be the deciding factor.

A disappointing 1-1 draw in the Catalan derby versus Espanyol at the turn of the year has left Pep Guardiola's side playing catch-up for the full month, and the role of pursuer is proving difficult for them. Messi netted twice to see off a stubborn Betis side at home, then produced his most scintillating display of the month, netting a hat-trick to defeat Malaga 4-1 at La Rosaleda.

But the 0-0 stalemate against a Villarreal side much removed from the formidable force of recent years has left Messi and his team-mates seven points behind. The Argentine squandered three clear opportunities to clinch the points for his side, and uncharacteristically came up short when it really mattered. Just as versus Espanyol, he could not provide the spark that his team desperately needed - and it could prove so very costly.

While the month has been far from conventional for Ronaldo, his goals and performances have ensured that Madrid, while seemingly incapable of defeating Barcelona, remain far superior to the challenge the rest of La Liga has to offer.

The Portuguese had to endure jeers from the terraces from disgruntled supporters demanding more from the world's most expensive player, and the withheld adulation appeared to incite a reaction, when he refused to celebrate his strike in the 5-1 romp of Granada.

But he appears to have emerged from the other side, riding the wave of dissent into Madrid's strongest league position since lifting the trophy back in 2008. While not his most prolific period of the season, he still managed to net goals at key times versus Athletic Bilbao and Zaragoza when his team were forced to come from behind.

Ronaldo has been prolific in his time in Spain, generally without reward so far, but after a pivotal January, his efforts may eventually provide the elusive silverware he has so desperately craved.

Who was better in January? Who was more consistent? Who was more productive? Join the debate on goal_intl and leave your tweets with the hashtag #goalh2h. Goal.com will publish the best comments in our poll result article on Feb 6, 2012.

Poll of the day

Who was the better performer in January?

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