|The race to be La Liga top goal scorer has been dominated by two men in recent years.
The Pichichi trophy is awarded by Marca, a Spanish newspaper to the player who has the most goals at the end of the Spanish top-flight league season.
The trophy has spent a great deal of time in the homes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The Argentine forward first one the award in the 2009/10 season, scoring 34 goals. Ronaldo won his first top scorers award the following season and went on to finish as La Liga top scorer three times.
Messi holds the all-time record with Hugo Sanchez having finished as top goal scorer five times in his career, including last season when he amassed 34 goals in 36 matches.
With Ronaldo having left for Juventus in the summer, it is little surprise to see Messi as the clear favourite to end the 2018/19 La Liga season as the top goal scorer and move ahead of Sanchez in the record books.
Barcelona’s greatest ever goal scorer has already netted 5 times this season having played six games. Only Gareth Bale (23) comes close to the total number of shots on target recorded by Messi this season (25) and having decided not to play for Argentina in the friendly games in the Autumn, there is no reason to doubt his credentials.
The only man who has prevented either Messi or Ronaldo winning the Pichichi in the last nine seasons, is Luis Suarez, also of Barcelona. Messi’s teammate upstaged the Argentine in 2015/16, scoring 40 goals and has 3 La Liga goals to his name after six matches this season. With Messi on penalty and free-kick duty, it will be tough for Suarez to repeat the feat unless Messi is injured.
Real Madrid finished third last season and will be hoping to improve on that by winning the title. Karim Benzema may finally be given the central striker position for the whole campaign, something the Frenchman has craved for some time. Without Ronaldo, the pressure is on Benzema to score goals but he will still face competition from within his own ranks thanks to Gareth Bale.
If the two players share the goal scoring burden for Real Madrid this season, it may benefit the club but end up being to the detriment of their own top goal scorer chances.
Atletico Madrid are aiming to win La Liga this season and they have both Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa in their ranks. Griezmann scored 19 goals last season but was still some way off catching Messi and Ronaldo at the top of the scorers chart. It would be a big surprise if Griezmann or Costa won the Pichichi this season.
Other potential contenders to finish the 2018/19 La Liga season as top goal scorer include Iago Aspas of Celta Vigo and Andre Silva of Sevilla. The former we already know about having established himself as a top Spanish striker but Silva has surprised many with his start to the campaign.
However, if Messi performs anywhere near his best for the majority of the season, there can surely be only one winner.