Benzema and Messi: The leaders of Real Madrid and Barcelona's runs
This Saturday's El Clásico is going to be an exciting game between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and both teams have hugely decisive players leading their attacks in the form of Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi.
Each comes into the game in great form, and it's not an exaggeration to say that the outcome of Saturday night's match relies heavily on what they do.
Benzema has 12 goals in 15 games since the turn of the year. Ten of those have come in LaLiga Santander, and it came as a surprise that he didn't score against Liverpool on Tuesday.
Ahead of that game, the No.9 had scored in seven consecutive matches, which was his best run as a Real Madrid player. Getafe, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Elche, Atalanta, Celta Vigo and Eibar were all his victims, as he scored nine goals from those seven outings.
Benzema guides Real Madrid
The Frenchman has 24 goals in 34 games this season, which is his best goals-per-game average since joining the club. Should he continue scoring at this rate, he'll beat his 30-goal season and his 27-goal season, as well as his best goalscoring season in which he scored 32 under Jose Mourinho.
Benzema's goals have brought Los Blancos back into the title race, and they're nicely placed in the Champions League to reach the semi-finals as well. His 18 LaLiga Santander goals have him one behind Gerard Moreno and Luis Suarez in the race for the Pichichi, but Lionel Messi is four ahead.
Messi is Barcelona's leader
Barcelona were written off as title contenders, but now they have the title in their own hands. One of the main reasons for their remarkable turnaround has been Lionel Messi's run of form in 2021.
He didn't start the season in typical Messi fashion, but the turn of the year has seen him rediscover his very best form. He started to feel comfortable as Ronald Koeman tried some different systems, and he was seen smiling for the first time in a long time.
Since January 1, Messi has scored 16 goals in 13 LaLiga Santander games. He has almost single-handedly led Barcelona back into the title race, cutting Atletico Madrid's lead at the top, and he'll want to score his first Clasico goal since 2018 on Saturday.
At the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Messi almost always delivered. He won 12 times there and scored 15 goals, but this weekend will see him visit Valdebebas for the first time, and he'll want to score at a new stadium to add to his long list.
Source: Marca / Pablo Polo - Luis F. Rojo - Conor Clancy