A worldwide TV audience of over 500 million is expected to tune in this weekend as the latest Clásico is played out in Barcelona. And while the spectacle of Spain’s best teams and oldest rivals slugging it out is tantalising enough, there is also the substantial added attraction of watching the world’s two best footballers strut their stuff.
After all, while the likes of Andres Iniesta, Karim Benzema and Xavi provide a sparkling supporting cast, Pep Guardiola summed it up when he observed last week: "Messi and Ronaldo dine apart from the rest.” The fact that this brilliant duo are in direct competition, playing for two of the of world’s fiercest foes, merely makes their rivalry all the more gripping. Indeed, as Barça and Real have battled for titles, Messi and Ronaldo have been contesting a scintillating personal duel in which incredible achievements have become commonplace.
Rarely a week goes by, in fact, without a fresh record falling to one or both, and to whet your appetites for their latest showdown, FIFA.com has compiled a list of this peerless pair’s most spectacular statistics.
goals is Messi’s club record tally at Barcelona. The 24-year-old passed Cesar Rodriguez’s mark of 232 when he scored a hat-trick – his 18th for Barça – in a 5-3 win over Granada last month.
goals in 160 competitive appearances represents Messi’s contribution to Barcelona since Ronaldo’s move to Real.
La Liga goals have been scored by Messi (72) and Ronaldo (81) since the start of last season.
goals was the combined haul with which Messi and Ronaldo ended their 2011 club campaigns. Messi scored 55 times in 57 appearances for Barça, while Ronaldo managed 53 in 51 games for Real.
is the combined goal tally of Ronaldo, Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain across all competitions, establishing them as the most prolific trio in Spanish footballing history, seven clear of the previous record-holders: Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o.
matches was all Ronaldo needed to complete a century of La Liga goals. No player in the league’s history had ever reached the 100-mark in so few appearances.
of Barcelona’s 167 goals this season have either been scored (63) or assisted (25) by Messi.
goals, 41 apiece, have already been scored by Messi and Ronaldo in La Liga this season. The entire team of third-place Valencia have managed just 50. Prior to Barça and Real’s dynamic duo coming on the scene, no-one had ever scored more than 38 goals in a single La Liga campaign.
goals in 67 La Liga appearances is Ronaldo’s record since Jose Mourinho took charge at the Bernabeu.
goals is Messi’s goal tally for Barcelona this season, leaving him just four short of equalling Gerd Muller’s European record from 1972/73. The Barça No10 is the first player since Muller to score 60 or more in a single season.
top flight goals in successive seasons is a feat that no-one in Europe’s top five leagues had ever managed before Ronaldo once again rewrote the record books.
goals in 23 matches is Messi’s record at the Camp Nou this season, with 28 of these – already a La Liga record – coming in the top flight. The Barça No10 has scored in each of his last ten home appearances, producing a total of 18 goals.
goals and 6 assists have been contributed by Messi in his last 16 appearances for club and country. The 24-year-old has also scored in each of his last ten La Liga appearances, giving him a share in a Barça record set by Mariano Martin in 1943 and equalled by Ronaldo in 1996/97.
winner’s medals have already been secured by Messi, 18 with Barça, and two – the FIFA U-20 World Cup and Olympic gold – with Argentina.
of Ronaldo’s 41 La Liga goals have come away from home, equalling a record set by Daniel Guiza in 2007/08.
goals in this season’s UEFA Champions League have enabled Messi to equal the record for a single campaign in Europe’s top competition, a record previously shared by Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002/03) and Jose Joao Altafini (1962/63).
hat-tricks have been scored by Ronaldo this season – the most by any Spain-based player in a single campaign.
players in history have scored 50 goals or more for a European club in successive seasons. Messi and Ronaldo make up two-thirds of this exclusive group, with Gerd Muller completing the trio.
goal every 72 minutes: that is what Messi has averaged over 4,590 minutes of action for Barcelona this season. If he maintains his current scoring average, the 24-year-old will end the season with a goal tally of 72.