Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo renew world football’s greatest individual battle when they meet in a much-anticipated Clasico on Saturday.
Barcelona have the benefit of a healthy lead in LaLiga and know a win at the Santiago Bernabeu would be a major blow to Real Madrid’s title hopes.
The potentially decisive clash could boil down to which of the sides’ superstars takes control.
Using Opta data, we analyse which player has enjoyed El Clasico most across their stellar careers.
MESSI THE MASTER
Even a finely-tuned goal machine like Ronaldo cannot match Messi’s scoring supremacy when it comes to this fixture.
The agile Argentinian is the most prolific player in Clasico history, with 24 goals in all competitions from just 36 appearances.
That exceptional rate is some way better than the 17 in 28 Ronaldo has managed since arriving in Spain from Manchester United in 2009.
And compared to Messi’s 13, Ronaldo’s solitary assist is a paltry figure for a player who has hardly been short on quality team-mates.
To his credit, the Portugal captain never shies from responsibility in front of goal and is only one strike shy of Alfredo Di Stefano’s club record of 18 against Barca.
WINNING THE TEAM WAR
Ronaldo and Messi’s long-running battle will be talked about for decades to come, but the Clasico will outlast them and its value outweighs their rivalry.
The fixture can prove decisive in determining the fate of LaLiga and, as Ronaldo’s recent Ballon d’Or success illustrates, team success holds the key to coveted individual honours.
With that in mind, Messi will have taken special satisfaction from each of the 16 wins he has managed over Los Blancos in 36 meetings. He has lost 12 and drawn eight.
That figure will be particularly pleasing in the context of Ronaldo’s eight wins in 28, with the Madrid man having endured 13 defeats and seven draws.
WHO REMAINS THE BIGGEST FACTOR?
Ronaldo has been dogged by whispers of a decline this season despite claiming his second straight Ballon d’Or in December, moving level with Messi on five overall
But which player has been most effective when they have gone head-to-head in recent times?
Messi’s influence, with three goals in the last four fixtures, remains strong, though the 30-year-old has not provided a single assist in his last six.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has been on target twice in his four involvements since the beginning of 2016, with the most recent of those efforts coming in a 3-1 Supercopa de Espana win at Camp Nou in August.