1:54 am - Thursday November 5, 2015

Messi challenges Ronaldo in race for Spain’s top scorer

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After finding his scoring touch in Germany, Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to renew his scintillating duel with Lionel Messi in the Spanish league.

Ronaldo ended a rare three-game slump without a goal to help Real Madrid win 2-0 at Schalke in the Champions League.

“It is clear that Cristiano Ronaldo lives to score goals,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It’s never a problem for us when he doesn’t score for a couple of games.

But he, of course, minds. I believe we are back on the right track.”

Madrid leads Barcelona by one point in the league before visiting a modest Elche side on Sunday.

Barcelona hosts Malaga on Saturday, three days before it travels to play Manchester City in the Champions League.

Not so long ago Ronaldo was running away with the Spanish league’s individual scoring title for the season.

Through 15 matches, Ronaldo had already tallied the impressive haul of 25 goals, while Messi – his closest chaser – was far behind with 13.

Since then, Messi has exploded and Ronaldo has struggled to keep up. Ronaldo still leads with 28 goals, but Messi has closed the gap and has 26.

Counting all competitions, the two are fittingly locked on 37 goals in 34 appearances each.

Barcelona has made a remarkable turnaround for a team that seemed to be on the brink in early January following a loss at Real Sociedad that was quickly followed by the firing of its sports director, a call for early club elections and reports that coach Luis Enrique’s job was at risk.

“Since (Real Sociedad) the team has changed its attitude,” Messi said. “We give more effort and go out onto the pitch in a different manner. Now we pressure to recover the ball like we didn’t do before.

“We are playing very, very well. But we know that we still haven’t won anything yet and that these are the important months.”

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