Real Madrid finally broke Barcelona’s recent dominance of La Liga as they wrapped up their first title in four years on Wednesday evening with a 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao.
The intense rivalry between the two giants of Spanish football continues to capture the imagination of fans across the world as they push each other to reach ever more dizzying heights on the pitch.
And while Real can now sit comfortably in the knowledge that this has been their year – and hopefully you can excuse us for having a little celebration about that – there is still one major question to be answered: will Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo finish as the league’s top scorer?
The annual battle for goalscoring supremacy between arguably the two greatest players on the planet has been one of the prime sub-plots of the recent Barca-Real animosity and this year, it looks like the ‘Pichichi’ could go to the wire.
Messi fired his eighth hat-trick of the season in the Catalans’ 4-1 win over Malaga to take his league tally for the season to an astonishing 46 goals, putting him two clear of Ronaldo with two games remaining.
It should also be noted that Messi’s latest haul at Camp Nou saw him break Bayern Munich and Germany legend Gerd Muller’s long-standing all-time goalscoring record in one season – the little Argentine genius has now fired a staggering 68 goals in all competitions.
Nothing would please him more than overhauling Messi to retain the Pichichi and the way he was shooting on-sight against Athletic confirmed that theory, not to mention frustrating his team-mates at times.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, did manage to get on the scoresheet at San Mames but also missed a penalty, his second in a row after his failure from the spot in Real’s recent Champions League semi-final shoot-out defeat against Bayern.
The Portuguese star told reporters after the game that he was only focused on helping Real win the title, but the trademark scowl on his face as he struggled for the majority of the 90 minutes in the Basque country told a different story.
Nothing would please him more than overhauling Messi to retain the Pichichi and the way he was shooting on-sight against Athletic confirmed that theory – and frustrated his team-mates at times.
Ronaldo is priced as the 3/2 outsider to finish as top scorer in La Liga, with Messi understandably short at 1/2 ahead of this weekend’s penultimate matches in the Spanish top flight – you can bet on the race for the Pichichi here.
Games against Granada (away) and Mallorca (home) give Ronaldo a decent chance to make hay, while Messi faces a Catalan derby against Espanyol at Camp Nou before rounding off the campaign at Real Betis.
But whoever ends up on top, the personal duel between these two extraordinary talents looks set to thrill us all for many years to come.
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