You know who they are, you know their names and there’s no denying their success. You might not like either of them, you don’t have to, but if you consider yourself a football fan then you have no choice but to simply sit back in awe of the accomplishments of these two men. They round out the All-Time Champions League Top Scorers list, and it might take some time before we see anyone else get close to these two icons.
Clubs Represented in UCL: Barcelona
Goals Ratio: 0.82
Champions League titles: 4 (2005/06, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2014/15)
Number one and two have been seen everywhere there is a prestigious trophy to be collected, and Lionel Messi is one of those players whom it seems there is no limit, whether it be goal scoring records, trophies or the overall legacy he will leave behind when his football days are over. At just 29 years of age and well and truly still in the peak of his career, as seen with Wednesday’s demolition job of Manchester City, he has become the competition’s record holder for goals scored at home, with 50. English sides have proven to be Messi’s favourite opponent, with 16 of his 89 Champions League strikes coming against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktWFml7uWv4
A four-time winner of the Champions League, scoring in two finals, Messi has won the Ballon d’Or (changed to the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010 following the merger of France’s Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World Player of the Year award) five times. He is also a three-time Golden Shoe winner, winning the award with the highest number of league goals scored since the award’s inception, with 50 league goals in the 2011/12 La Liga season. He is the only player to come close to di Stefano’s almost perfect goal scoring ratio of 0.84, falling just short of that at 0.82. Messi is the only player on the list to score five goals in a single Champions League game, when Barcelona destroyed Leverkusen 7-1 in 2013.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNIx8JRCSZ0
The list of accolades seems to go on forever for the Argentine magician, though his critics will be quick to point to his failures on the international stage. This, of course, despite Messi being the countries all-time top scorer with 56 goals in 114 games, at a 0.491 average. He has appeared in four finals for his country, three being Copa America finals and one World Cup final, losing them all and forcing a premature retirement from the international stage following a missed penalty in the 2016 loss to Chile. The retirement lasted less than two months, though, as Messi is back playing for Argentina and will look to take them to World Cup glory in the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Clubs Represented in UCL: Manchester United, Real Madrid
Goals ratio: 0.73
Champions League titles: 3 (Manchester United 2007/08, Real Madrid 2013/14, 2015/16)
Love him or hate him, Cristiano Ronaldo’s place in the history books of world football is guaranteed. He is the Champions League’s current record goal scorer with 95 strikes and, like his Argentinian and El Clasico rival Lionel Messi, is still enjoying the best years of his career. His most recent triumph’s include a Champions League victory just this past May, scoring the winning penalty in a shootout, as well as capturing the previously elusive international trophy with Portugal, as they won the European Championship in July.
He has won three Champions League titles with two different clubs, the only player on the list to do so, and holds three Ballon d’Or trophies. He won the FIFA Puskas Award in 2009 for a Quarter-Final Champions League effort from some 40 yards out against Porto, and has won the Golden Shoe four times.
Ronaldo’s rivalry with Messi is a much debated topic, one which cannot provide enough evidence to suggest that one is clearly superior to the other. The international stage has recently provided a noticeable difference, though, as Ronaldo has one trophy with Portugal to Messi’s zero with Argentina, but the two have similar goal scoring records for their country. Ronaldo, leading goal scorer in Portugal’s history, has 66 Portugal goals from 135 caps for a 0.49 average, almost identical to Messi’s record (0.491). Messi has the edge in El Clasico goals, La Liga goal totals, Champions League trophies and domestic titles, but Ronaldo leads the Champions League for goals scored, has more Golden Shoe trophies, scored more hat tricks (30 to Messi’s 26) and has the all-important major international trophy with his country. Who’s better? The question is currently best answered through subjective preference, showing that we’ll have to wait until both of their careers are over to draw a more credible conclusion. What’s for sure is football won’t be the same when these two legends step away from the spotlight.