The battle between Ronaldo and Lukaku for Serie A’s Golden Boot

With the Serie A season closing in on its halfway point, it is no surprise to see who tops the league’s scoring charts.

Frontrunners Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku have 15 and 12 goals respectively — but who will be Italy’s leading scorer when 2020-21 reaches its conclusion?

With the pair set to come up against each when Juventus and Inter Milan lock horns at the San Siro on Sunday, we have dug into the data to try and determine who will be crowned Capocannoniere come May.

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Strike rate

Both players have spent a remarkably similar amount of time on the pitch this season, with Ronaldo playing 1,092 league minutes and Lukaku managing slightly more at 1,154.

The Juve star’s strike rate is 1.24 goals per 90 minutes, which is a fair way above Lukaku’s record of 0.94 per match.

That would suggest Ronaldo, 35, is a strong favourite to come out ahead, but the expected goals (xG) chart paints a different picture.

Inter frontman Lukaku has an xG of 0.97 per 90, which is marginally better than his rival’s 0.96 average for the Old Lady.

Volume vs accuracy

In striking terms, this is an ideological battle between one forward who prioritises volume over quality of chances and another who is all about maximising the best opportunities.

Ronaldo has taken more shots than Lukaku (5.19 vs 3.35 per 90 minutes) and has inevitably registered more on target as a result (2.23 vs 1.64 per 90 minutes).

That is no surprise given Juve’s game plan is to get the Portuguese in shooting positions as often as possible.

But 27-year-old Lukaku’s shooting accuracy of 48.84% is better than the Juventus marksman’s 42.86% and he has also scored more big chances than Ronaldo (0.94 vs 0.91 per 90 minutes).

The supporting cast

Lukaku is more reliant on the players around him creating opportunities on a consistent basis.

That is potentially bad news for the former Chelsea and Manchester United striker because Inter are not among the league’s best creators.

Both their chances (12.53) and big chances created (2.47) per 90 minutes rank only fourth among Italy’s top flight.

That is below Juventus in both metrics, with the champions registering 13.19 and 2.94 respectively.

A two-horse race?

While Ronaldo and Lukaku lead the way for total goals scored, it would be foolish to completely rule out AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic — as the Swede would doubtless tell you himself.

The evergreen 39-year-old has struck 10 times in the league this season for the surprise leaders, but that is largely due to his limited minutes on the pitch (534).

He has scored the most goals per 90 minutes (1.69) in Serie A and will be a serious contender if he can stay fit for the rest of the campaign.

Who is the favourite?

It is hard to look past Ronaldo when predicting who will be Capocannoniere.

With Juventus improving as the season progresses and Inter creating fewer opportunities than their top-four rivals, the smart money is on CR7 continuing to do what he does best — winning.

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