Is Cristiano Ronaldo set to finally overtake Lionel Messi in 2013?
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid's star man, has scored 28 goals in 2013, five more than his Argentine rival Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo was jeered off the pitch at San Mames, but he smiled brightly as he wandered to the dressing rooms, aware that his reputation had grown again with a towering performance in Real Madrid’s farewell to the legendary stadium.
The Portuguese striker, at 28, is going through the best spell of his professional career. His statistics show it; he is beginning to leave Lionel Messi behind.
So far in 2013, Ronaldo has hit 28 goals for club and country, while the diminutive Argentine is five behind (22 with Barça and one with Argentina).
That the Real Madrid striker is pulling away from Messi is a fact reflected by the change in the trends over the past few months.
Before the Christmas break Messi was on 40 goals, with Ronaldo back on 24 – a full 16 less.
But the turkey and cranberry sauce seem to have done Ronaldo the world of good. He triumphed in the head-to-head battle in the return leg of the Copa del Rey semi at the Camp Nou, netting a brace that put Madrid in the final and left Barcelona a shadow of their normal selves as an indistinct Messi failed to score.
In the recent Clásicos there has also been a new trend in favour of the Real Madrid forward. In the last nine matches played between the eternal rivals since January 2012, Ronaldo has hit the back of the net nine times, while Messi has raised his index fingers to the heavens just five.
What is not up for debate, however, is the importance of both players for their teams.
Ronaldo has netted 50 of the 125 goals scored by Madrid, a total of 40 per cent. Messi has bagged 57 of the 141 goals scored by Barcelona, also 40 per cent.
As for titles, Ronaldo has lifted the Spanish Super Cup and in May has a chance at an historic double from Madrid, who have never won both cups in the same season. Messi, meanwhile, should pick up the La Liga crown and continues to strive for the Champions League.
Ronaldo has eleven matches still to play this season (seven in the league, the Copa del Rey final and up to three in the Champions League), which is one more than his rival.
But for the time being, Ronaldo is winning.
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