Champions League All-Time Top Scorers
For over a decade now, the Messi v Ronaldo debate has been the forefront of the majority of football talk and one thing’s for sure, they’ve dominated the Champions League goalscoring charts. Cristiano Ronaldo is on top in terms of scoring the most goals in a season: 17 for Real Madrid during 2013-14 and he is also on top when it comes to receiving the Golden Boot (seven times, to Messi’s five). But when it comes down to this season, Lionel Messi’s on top with six goals to Ronaldo’s four (they both added to their tally in their round of 16 second leg ties). They’re both in triple figures in terms of goals in the Champions League – and are the only two players to reach that feat – however, it doesn’t look as though they’ll ever be caught or surpassed, with Karim Benzema closest and he’s only on 60. In fact, there are only seven players that have scored 50 goals or more in the Champions League – but more about them later.
Turning our attention to this season and the top goal scorer in the UEFA Champions League at the moment is shared between Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) with eight goals, followed by Dusan Tadic (Ajax), and Moussa Marega (Porto) both with six. The current odds-on favourite to win the Champions League ‘golden boot’ is the pint-sized Argentine.
But who are all the leading all-time top scorers in the Champions League? Grab a match day cuppa (or should that be pint?) and read on.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-present)
Who else would top the chart, but Madrid’s all-time record goal scorer who to date has amassed 124 goals in 160 appearances for three different clubs (Manchester United, Madrid and Juventus). His first Champions League goals came in the 2006/07 quarter-final second leg against Roma, when playing for Manchester United. The Red Devils won 7-1, with Ronny netting twice. Memorably, he recently scored two goals in the final against Juventus (2016/17 season), which saw Madrid triumphant 3-1 winners. However, he can only sit behind Messi with the most goals for a single club, cumulating 105 while at the Bernabéu.
Lionel Messi (2005-present)
Messi comes in second place with 108 goals from 131 appearances, all while playing for Barcelona. His first Champions League goal came in November 2005, in a 5-0 win against Panathinaikos in the group stages. Statistics show that the majority of his goals come in the group stages (66) but he’s scored at least six goals in the competition for 12 consecutive seasons, so is more than capable. More memorably, Messi has scored in two Champions League finals, ironically both against Manchester United (2008/09 and 2010/11). BT Sport took a look at Messi’s top 10 Champions League goals to date, and you can see them in the video below.
With 66 goals for Madrid and a further five for Schalke, Raúl comes third in the list with a total of 71 goals in 142 games. When breaking his Champions League duck, Raúl did it in spectacular fashion, scoring a hat-trick against Ferencváros in a 6-1 demolition during the group stages of the 1995/96 season. Like Messi, he scored in two Champions League finals and both years, Madrid lifted the trophy. The Los Blancos and Spain legend scored plenty of memorable goals over the years and this one against bitter rivals Barcelona from the 2001/02 semi-finals proves what a class act he was.
Karim Benzema (2006-present)
Last month, Benzema made history when he became the fourth player to ever reach 60 goals in the Champions League, with the majority of those coming for Real. His first Champions League goal came while at Lyon, in a 2-1 win over Rosenborg in the 2005/06 group stages. Interestingly, all bar one of his goals for the French side came in the early stages of the competition. Vastly underrated, Benzema’s return in the Champions League is fairly decent – averaging at 0.54 goals per game. And although it doesn’t seem likely that the forward will overtake, or even match Ronaldo in terms of goals scored for Los Blancos, it is possible, he could beat legend Raúl’s record – just not this season!
Completing that magical seven: players that have scored 50+ Champions League goals
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (1998-2009)
The former Dutch striker netted 56 goals in 73 appearances in the Champions League for three clubs: PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Real Madrid – the vast majority of those coming in the group stages.
Robert Lewandowski (2011-present)
To date, Robert Lewandowski has amassed 53 goals in 79 Champions League appearances for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He’s currently this season’s top scorer but with Bayern knocked out by Liverpool, won’t be able to add to his tally.
Thierry Henry (1997-2012)
Thierry Henry made it to 50 magical Champions League goals during his time at Barcelona but of course, the majority of his goals came while at Arsenal. He only won the Champions League once, but didn’t score and was substituted in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Manchester United in 2008/09.