Messi v Ronaldo: 2013 first look
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will go head-to-head when Barcelona meet Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of 2013
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo meet for the first time in 2013, when Real Madrid host Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday evening.
As two of the game's modern day greats prepare to face off against each other, football fans across the world will be watching, and waiting, with bated breath, to see which player can prevail.
And, if their respective records so far this calendar year are anything to go by, then the suggestion that Messi and Ronaldo are even better than ever, has to be correct.
The Argentine will be looking for his 18th El Clasico goal when Barca arrive in the Spanish capital tonight, a strike that will draw him level with compatriot Alfredo di Stefano, who holds the record for most goals in these famous clashes during his playing days with Real Madrid.
Ronaldo, by comparison, has ten goals for Los Blancos against Barcelona, although he has played only 12 Clasicos – five less than his rival, Messi.
The Portuguese forward boasts a slightly more prolific recent record, getting on the scoresheet in each of the last six meetings between the Primera Division powerhouses, while Messi has four goals for Barcelona in his last three games against Real Madrid.
Both players come into the Kings Cup clash in fine form and full of goals, with Messi having hit 16 compared to Ronaldo's 12 over the past 10 games. The four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner scored four against Osasuna at the weekend, making it 33 La Liga goals in 2012/13 so far, while Ronaldo has 21 after netting a hat-trick in his last outing against Getafe.
Messi's goals on Sunday meant he became the first player in history to score in 11 consecutive La Liga matches, and he can equal or break another record this evening with one eye on Di Stefano's accomplishment.
Tonight will be the fourth time Real Madrid and Barcelona have met this season, with Jose Mourinho's men taking the Spanish Super Cup on away goals over two legs. They also managed a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the league - the only points Barca have dropped at home, so there is very little to choose between the two sides.
Tito Vilanova's charges might enjoy a 15-point advantage over their title rivals, but that will all be forgotten when Real Madrid seek to avenge last season's quarter-final defeat to Barcelona in the same competition last year.
Here's a closer look at Messi and Ronaldo's goalscoring records this year:
Lionel Messi since Christmas:
Jan 6 | Barcelona 4-0 Espanyol, La Liga - 1 x goal
Jan 13 | Malaga 1-3 Barcelona, La Liga - 1 x goal
Jan 16 | Barcelona 2-2 Malaga, Copa del Rey - 1 x goal
Jan 19 | Real Sociedad 3-2 Barcelona, La Liga - 1 x goal
Jan 24 | Malaga 2-4 Barcelona, Copa del Rey - 1 x goal
Jan 27 | Barcelona 5-1 Osasuna, La Liga - 4 x goals
Total: Six games, NINE goals
Cristiano Ronaldo since Christmas:
Jan 6 | Real Madrid 4-3 Real Sociedad, La Liga – 2 x goals
Jan 9 | Real Madrid 4-0 Celta Vigo, Copa del Rey – 3 x goals
Jan 15 | Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia, Copa del Rey – no goals
Jan 20 | Valencia 0-5 Real Madrid, La Liga – 2 x goals
Jan 23 | Valencia 1-1 Real Madrid, Copa del Rey – no goals
Jan 27 | Real Madrid 4-0 Getafe, La Liga – 3 x goals
Total: Six games, TEN goals