It is a 14 goal difference between the two, with the Argentine hitting his stride in recent weeks.
The Pichichi win would leave Messi with four and Cristiano Ronaldo with three, with the Barcelona star just one behind Hugo Sanchez, Quini, and Di Stefano, or two behind Telmo Zara.
With 19 goals in 25 matches, he would need seven more to match the 26 he netted in his worst domestic league competition since joining Real Madrid.
Plus, with four yellow cards to his name, one more could mean suspension and Messi taking the prize for good.
If Messi were to emerge with the Pichichi, he hopes to equal Cristiano Ronaldo's four Golden Boot wins (three Pichichis and one top scorer in the Premier League with Manchester United).
The Rosario native has 66 points (two points for each of his 33 goals) where Bas Dost has 56 and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has 54.
After five goals in just two games against Bayern Munich, the Real Madrid No.7 still trails Messi by four goals in the Champions League top scorer's list for the current campaign, although it'll be difficult to catch up completely against a resolute opponent like Atletico Madrid.
As such, the Blaugrana legend will be hoping to secure a Pichichi, Golden boot, Champions League top-scorer trophy of trophies to his name.
Varane will miss Valencia clash
Despite completing Friday's training session without any apparent issues, Raphael Varane has been dropped from Zinedine Zidane's Valencia match-day squad.
Gareth Bale and Pepe remained injured, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Toni Kroos made their returns after being rested against Deportivo midweek.
Los Blancos face Voro's men Saturday at 16:15 CET.
The squad list is as follows:
Keepers: Navas, Casilla and Yáñez.
Defense: Ramos, Nacho, Carvajal, Danilo and Marcelo
Midfield: James, Kroos, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Asensio and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Lucas Vázquez and Morata.
Luis Suarez looking to put an end to goalscoring dry spell
In what is his worst run of games since joining Barcelona, Luis Suarez has now gone five consecutive matches without a goal, and never has gone six with the Blaugrana.
Not since his first five matches with the Catalans in November 2014 he has been unable to find a breakthrough in front of goal in so many consecutive matches.
The goals drying up has come at the worst possible time for Luis Enrique's side, as without the Uruguayan firing on all cylinders they have lost twice and drawn once.
Nonetheless, his 32 goals in 47 matches points to a good season overall, placing him second in the Pichichi charts.
He is also the LaLiga assist leader, which signals to his importance to Barcelona as a whole.
Against Espanyol, Suarez will look to get back on track, and his teammates will need him to do so if he is to keep the Blaugrana in the LaLiga title race.
De Gea has already asked Manchester United to sell him to Real Madrid
Real Madrid are determined to sign David De Gea this summer and because they are not ready to repeat the ridiculous episode of August 31, 2015, they have set to work well in advance with De Gea himself already instructing the Red Devils to sell him.
As you will recall, on that occasion, the double transfer of the international goalkeeper from Manchester United to Madrid and Keylor Navas from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to Old Trafford fell through because the transaction documents did not arrive on time.
The next day both entities were accused of hampering the agreement.
To avoid this, Los Blancos have activated 'Operation De Gea' with enough time so as not to exhaust the deadlines, and they have reached an agreement with the goalkeeper, who will sign for five or six seasons.
Klopp: I'm a romantic football
urgen Klopp gives few individual interviews and even fewer in England. So MARCA readers have the privilege of getting to know this unique character and charismatic leader, who hides a strong personality and footballing and managerial beliefs beneath his broad smile. The Liverpool coach met with us in the stands of Anfield, the symbol of a club which is trying to return to the heights of its history deserves. As such, he has been working to win a league which has not been won since 1989/90.
How would you grade Liverpool's season so far?
We are up there fighting for the spots which grant qualification to the Champions League, but I tell you that with five points more everything would be seen differently. I know where we have lost matches, but that's in the past and can't be changed. There are just a few matches remaining and we'll fight for the maximum. There's no other option, as this is Liverpool.
Let's talk about you. You always seem to be content, happy and smiling. How do you manage the pressure that is there in football?
I'm not interested in pressure and I don't feel it. That's true. I have pressure, but only the pressure I put on myself. I want to win football games, but I know there are more important things out there in the world than football. I feel really bad after a defeat and I feel 100 percent responsible, which is the problem. I don't feel the same responsibility when we win, unfortunately. But I love the job I do. I have long days and a lot of work to do, but if somebody would have told me 20 or 30 years ago that I can do this job pretty much for my whole life then I'd have said there was no chance. As such, I am happy with what I do, but I'm not happy all of the days. I just try to be happy as much as possible.
You win over almost all of your players. How do you do that?
I don't know if it's a secret, but I like football players. I have two sons and they are older than my players and I like having a good relationship with them. I am like a father for my players, that is how I understand it. I'm not nice in every minute of the day. As I've tried to explain a few times, I want to be their friend, but not their best friend, and a friend tells you the truth in the right moment and that's what I have to do. I have to make decisions and that's all clear, but I like to have a good atmosphere around. Life is short and you have to be happy.
How do you know if a player is good or bad for the team?
When I sign a player I tell them that at least 50 percent of their success if my responsibility and 50 percent is theirs. Furthermore, I always say that I never know if a player is a great player until I know if he is a good or bad person. That's because he could be a genius, but if he only helps me in three games a year and then causes me problems in the rest of the matches ... Looking at the example of Ronaldo and Messi. Ronaldo, for example, fascinates everybody, but I'm sure that later on he works harder than anybody. The game has its rules and we all must try to understand them. You can say apply these rules to your private life.
You get on well with people and even rival clubs' fans seem to adore you. Do you feel it is like that?
No, and I will never stop thinking so. If you ask in Germany you will see! Many supporters won't think what they're saying. And who could manage to be liked by everybody? It's impossible. I don't look for friends in football as I have enough already. When I go into a room, I try to leave a better atmosphere than I found. I admit that, but I don't try to be nice all of the time. The opinion of my family influences me. The rest doesn't bother me.
Liverpool is a very special club and you're a very emotional person. Do you still feel something when you hear 'You'll Never Walk Alone' or is it now just like another day at the office?
Maybe I'm the luckiest manager in world football because I had three teams [who sing it]. I'm a romantic football and I like tradition in football and all that stuff. In Germany, only two clubs sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before the game and that is Mainz and Dortmund. That's not because of me, as that had already started before I was there. Now I've come to the original place, if you want, and it never stops feeling really special. It never stops creating goosebumps. That's how it is. It's fantastic and that's what I love most in football. The world around is serious enough. I like that we all give ourselves the opportunity and the possibility to enjoy something like this and to come here, even when we know it's not the most important thing in the world. We all want to win with all we have and if we win then we celebrate together and if we lose then we suffer together. In life you suffer problems alone, but here you know you can enjoy and suffer along with a lot of people and with 30 million other fans around the world. It is a strong feeling of a great community, one which does not solve all problems, but which helps.
How would you compare LaLiga to the English Premier League?
I never played [in Spain] so I don't know. They probably have the two best teams in the world. From my point of view, maybe it’s the best tactical football. Both tactical wise and tactical wise it's really good from all of the teams. You even watch an Alaves and say 'Oh', as they have really good players. Then you have these outstanding teams, still with Barcelona and Real Madrid, but now with Atletico and Sevilla getting consistent in this area [of the table].
Which other league attracts you most?
Everything is influenced by the climate, in my opinion. Every country has its own football and the weather influences it a lot. If I, in Liverpool, only did tactical work three times a week then I would be ill! The weather influences the football culture in each place. I have really enjoyed the Spanish golden generation, which has dominated the game for 10 years. But then, for example, I was watching France against Spain. Spain won, yes, but if you appreciate the young generation that the French have then you appreciate other things. Football changes quickly. Germany is doing things well. England has a better team than people think. It will be interesting to see who dominates international football in the coming years.
So you have enjoyed the Spanish team?
A lot. Which football lover hasn't? They are still at a good age. Sergio Busquets is only 28 years old, no? What a player! It seems he's been playing for 16 years. The current team has wonderful players.
What other players do you appreciate right now?
Toni Kroos is an exceptional player. He's a genius. He is so subtle with the ball. He is very important at Real Madrid. I like him a lot. He always knows what to do with the ball.
You haven't coached many Spanish players and currently only have Alberto Moreno. But what convinces you most about current Spanish players?
When I worked in Germany I saw Thiago Alcantara and he made big steps. He plays outstandingly. And David Silva [Klopp chuckles] ... He's a really nice player. They are all good. Pedro is having a fantastic season again. There are a lot of outstanding and good [Spanish] players. In Dortmund we didn't have money to buy them. Only Gonzalo Castro was there, but he is only half-Spanish, although a fantastic player.
How would you evaluate the influence of Spanish coaches on the Premier League? From Rafa Benitez to Roberto Martinez to Pep Guardiola now.
Very positively. In the past and now. Guardiola is an revolutionary of the game, one of these coaches who changes the style of a team. I respect him a lot. He created some magic in the Barcelona team of that fantastic generation of players.
Liverpool had three or four teams ahead of them at the start of the season.
Can Liverpool dream of winning the Premier League one year?
Of course. It is always possible. Is it likely? I don't know, but it's possible and that's enough for me actually. A few clubs maybe, at this moment, have better possibilities, but I'm not interested in this. You must be creative in this job, to find the right solutions for the problem you have or the situation you have. I'm really excited about fighting for it and at the end we'll see if it works out. To win something, one of [the meetings] or some of them is possible. But the fight is always exciting.
Do you think the Premier League is more difficult than LaLiga then?
You can imagine that even for Spanish teams it would be really difficult to become a champion in England. The competition is really difficult. Of course, [Barcelona and Real Madrid] would be at the top and fighting for everything. But nothing is certain in this league because a lot of different things have an influence and the intensity is really high. You don't have one game where you go and play your B team and think 'Okay, another 4-0' and you can rest the top players. You don't have this here.
But you're saying that is possible in LaLiga?
This is the big difference. It is also not possible in the Bundesliga, unless you are Bayern Munich. In England it is not possible to rest. You can see it this year. Chelsea are having a great season, but there are a lot of matches which they have won 1-0 and they have had to defend the result to the very end. I now have experience with two different leagues and I can say that this time [in England] is really difficult. Ask Pep and he will say the same, by the way!
You don't seem to consider yourself a typical football coach?
I've never thought about what you're suggesting, so I don't know. I wanted to be a coach all of my life, regardless of my skills as a player. I combined both things. One day I was playing at Mainz and a few days later I was a professional coach right there. But, in reality, I started to train my first team when I was a 20-year-old and I said to myself 'Hmmm, I like this'. When I retired, I loved the sport too much to leave it. I had some bad and some good coaches and I learned something from all of them.
Do people's opinions bother you?
This is an advantage of my personality, as public opinion doesn't bother me at all. It isn't a lack of respect, but it's because it has zero influence on my decisions. You have to be very strong to be autonomous and to decide things for yourself and to survive in this public world. It doesn't bother me what people think. You have to follow your own path.
In general, what has been your biggest achievement as a coach?
I have many, but the biggest and most difficult one is to accept the defeats and the big defeats. If I learned one thing at the start of my career, after several failures with my first team Mainz, it's that there is always another day and you must work hard to fix the situation. You have to overcome player injuries and thousands of problems. We coaches are here to bring solutions and if we have five difficult situations then we have to solve them. That's why this is a hard job, but I still love it. I am thankful every day that I can still work in this field.
You have a lot of fans in Spain. Do you dare say something in Spanish?
'Una cerveza, por fav.' That's not bad, right?