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El Clasico: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, Ronaldo vs. Messi

Diet Clasico: This is the first of two Barcelona vs. Real Madrid meetings this week. The rivalry is fierce, but these matches may not be. The league is sewn up, with Barcelona a comfortable 12 points ahead (16 ahead of Real Madrid). The Copa Del Rey is only noteworthy when some fool drops it under a bus. Barcelona is playing for nothing but pride. Real Madrid has an active incentive to rest players. The club’s sole focus is the Champions League, especially with Jose Mourinho’s probable departure at season’s end. They have their crucial second leg with Manchester United the following Tuesday.

Messi vs. Ronaldo: Since joining Real Madrid in 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 166 goals and has 42 assists in 174 starts in the Primera Liga and Champions League. That’s ridiculously impressive, until you consider Lionel Messi has 192 goals and 60 assists in 160 starts over the same time frame. Those numbers might be slightly inflated, but still…wow. Messi has won four-straight Ballon d’Or awards. Ronaldo finished second three of the four years.

The Streak: This will be more more interesting when they play in the league on Saturday, but, even by his exalted standards, Messi is on a ridiculous tear. The Argentine has scored in 15-straight league matches, amassing 25 goals and five assists. He scored multiple goals in eight of the matches. He was last shut out in a 3-1 win against Celta Vigo on Nov. 3. There is some question, though, whether Barcelona has become too Messi dependent.

The Favorite: The teams are tied 1-1 after the first leg at Real Madrid. The Soccer Power Index has Barcelona a 63.7 percent favorite to advance.

[Photo via Getty]

Related: Lionel Messi Wore a Polka Dot Tuxedo Jacket While Winning Fourth-Straight Ballon D’Or
Related: Lionel Messi: Video of His Record 86 Goals in a Calendar Year

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