Messi streaks ahead in personal goal battle with Ronaldo

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Both players have been predictably potent in front of goal in 2015-16, but the numbers suggest that Barcelona need their star far more than their perennial rivals do

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have proved far and away the most prolific goalscorers of the last decade, but it is the Argentine who is currently leading his Real Madrid rival ahead of Saturday's Clasico. 

At 29 and 31 respectively the two stars are slowly entering the zenith of their professional careers, although Messi as the younger member of the record-breaking duo may have a couple more years yet to keep hitting the net. 

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Both the Barcelona and Madrid men have changed their play in recent years, but so far in 2015-16 there has been no doubt who is in the better scoring form. Messi has streaked away with 19 goals in all competitions so far, while Cristiano trails on with a nevertheless more than respectable 12. 

Messi has smashed his 19 strikes in just 16 matches, one more than the Real striker who missed the start of the season through injury. Cristiano boasts the better record in La Liga, with a recent flurry of five goals in his last two outings lifting him to 10 and seeing him leapfrog the Argentine into pole position for the Pichichi trophy lifted last year by Luis Suarez. 

In Europe, however, it has been a different story. La Pulga has scored an incredible nine times so far in the Champions League group stage, seven more than his rival and by far the best record in the entire competition. 

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The Argentine, then, is currently the world's most potent scorer, quite a way ahead of a Ronaldo that is still a key part of the Madrid set-up as the capital club steam ahead in the league. But while his goals are vital, his own presence may not be quite as important. 

The Merengue have won all four of their Liga fixtures without the Portuguese star, while Barcelona have won two, drawn once and lost another without their inspirational No. 10. 

And when it comes to efficiency in front of the net, nobody can touch Messi. His 19 strikes have come from a total of 33 shots on target, the same number from which Ronaldo has harvested his dozen so far. Only Edinson Cavani outranks his fellow South American in that respect; and it is clear that, while Madrid can live without their perennial Ballon d'Or contender, the same cannot yet be said of their great Clasico rivals in Catalunya.