Ronaldo & Messi cementing their status as the modern game's greatest goalscorers

The Portuguese and the Argentine are the only two players to have netted 50 or more goals in a Spanish season – and they have now done so in each of the last three campaigns

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

The numbers speak for themselves. Cristiano Ronaldo’s solo show for Real Madrid in the capital club’s 3-0 win at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday saw the Portuguese take his tally for 2012-13 to 50 goals, emulating a feat already achieved by Lionel Messi in the current campaign. The pair are the only two players to have reached a half century of strikes in a Spanish season – and they now have managed it for the last three terms.

Messi was absent as Barcelona beat Zaragoza 3-0 at La Rosaleda. The Argentine attacker has still not recovered from the hamstring strain he picked up in the first leg of the Catalans’ quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain recently and was not included in the squad for Sunday’s game.

But he already has 57 goals in 2012-13 (from just 46 games for Barcelona) and Ronaldo reached the landmark on Sunday, too, as Madrid swept aside Athletic Bilbao in the teams’ last-ever fixture at the old San Mames stadium, with a new adjacent ground set to be unveiled for next season by the Basque oufit.




53 goals

73 goals

57 goals

53 goals

60 goals

50 goals

Ronaldo opened the scoring with the second-fastest strike of his career, a free kick in the 71st second of the game which he had only bettered with a goal after just 45 against Xerez in 2009.

That knocked some of the stuffing out of a spirited Athletic side and the Portuguese finished off the Basques’ hopes with a brilliant second-half header to make it 50 goals in 2012-13 (in 48 games).

Messi and Ronaldo ended the 2011-12 season tied on 53 goals apiece (Leo in 55 games; Cristiano in 54). The Argentine then smashed Gerd Muller’s record of 69 in a single season as he struck 73 last season (in just 60 matches), while the Portuguese also improved his tally from the previous campaign to end 2011-12 with 60 strikes (from 55 games).

In the current campaign, Messi now has 57, with seven fixtures remaining in La Liga, plus at least two (and possibly three) games left in the Champions League. And like Barca, Madrid are also in the last four of the Champions League, meaning Ronaldo has up to 10 games left in those two competitions, plus the final of the Copa del Rey next month, in which Real face city rivals Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Messi is already, at 25, the highest scorer in the history of Barcelona, having surpassed Cesar Rodriguez last year. The Argentine now has 310 strikes in just 375 games for the Catalan club and, at this rate, he will comfortably reach 500 for the Blaugrana over the next few seasons.

Cristiano, at 28, now needs just four more goals to reach 200 for Real Madrid and is shooting up the list of the club’s all-time top scorers. He could even surpass fifth-placed Hugo Sanchez (208 goals for the club) this term, while Alfredo Di Stefano (308) and Raul (323) are well within reach if he stays at the Santiago Bernabeu for two more years. With 196 in 192 games, the Portuguese’s goal ratio is also far superior to anyone else in the top 10.

Messi has already said repeatedly that he is set to stay at Barcelona for many more years and Madrid fans will hope Ronaldo remains at their club, too. La Liga is home not only to perhaps the world’s two biggest clubs, but also the game’s greatest goalscorers in the modern era as well. And perhaps only when they have retired or moved on will the magnitude of their achievements be fully appreciated.

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