Sunday, December 5, 2010

On the race for the Pichichi -- Week 14

When I did the first post on the Pichichi race, I wasn't intending for it to be a recurring theme.  However, I think this year we are witnessing something special that warrants extra attention.  During this week's Barca match, the commentators were saying that Messi averages a goal a game under Pep Guardiola.  Scoring a goal a game is impressive under short spells during the season, but to do it consistently for two and a half seasons is a whole other level. 

Messi and Ronaldo are both averaging more than a goal a game this season.  After their matching hattricks before El Clasico, they followed it up with matching braces after El Clasico.  Their goal scoring pace may seem unsustainable, but Messi had a higher goals per game average for the second part of the 2009-10 season than he has for the start of the 2010-11 season.  If he could match that pace, he'd be on target to score 42 goals this season and still possibly lose the Pichichi to Ronaldo. 

Pichichi race between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 and 2010.  They're off to a better start this season, but can they keep it up?
 To put their awesome numbers into perspective, Messi and Ronaldo have scored 50% more goals than their EPL counterparts in fewer matches (Berbatov - 11, Tevez - 10). 

While it doesn't count towards the Pichichi, I think it's worthwhile to look at assists as well.  Messi's pass to David Villa for Barca's fourth goal was a thing of absolute beauty.  While Messi was kept off the scoresheet in El Classico, he certainly didn't have a quiet game.  Last season Ronaldo was criticized for being selfish and trying to do too much.  Ronaldo finished 13th in the league in assists last season while Messi finished 2nd.  This season Messi is leading the league while Ronaldo is in 4th, and both are 2 assists away from equalling last year's tallies.  Below is a chart of their accumulated points (2*goals+assists) from last season versus this season.  Their output is so close to each other this season, it will be interesting to see who cool's off first. 

Total points for Messi and Ronaldo over the last two seasons.  There's no separation between the two this season.

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