The Champions League is back with Europe’s elite facing off for the chance to reach the final, which is set to be played in Istanbul on May 29. Bayern Munich are among the favourites as the German giants aim to defend their title but teams including Real Madrid, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are in the running too. The highlight of the group stage will see a pair of meetings between old foes Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after Juventus and Barcelona were drawn together in Group G. Most football fans would have been able to guess that Ronaldo and Messi are among the Champions League top scorers of all-time but who has the most goals in Champions League history and who else is up there?
Champions League top scorers of all-time | Top 5
5. Karim Benzema – 65 (Lyon, Real Madrid)
The much-maligned Karim Benzema kicks off our list of the Champions League top scorers of all-time with the former France forward having hit 65 goals in the competition.
Benzema broke through at Lyon, where his prolific form caught the eye of Real Madrid. After moving to the Spanish capital in 2009, Benzema has led the line with distinction.
Often under-rated and having had to play second fiddle to a rotating cast of stars including Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Benzema helped Madrid to win four Champions League titles in the space of five years, including three in a row under the leadership of his compatriot Zinedine Zidane.
Benzema opened the scoring in the 2018 final of the Champions League by capitalising on an error from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius – a career highlight for the 32-year-old.
4. Robert Lewandowski – 68 (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich)
Next up is prolific Poland international Robert Lewandowski, who would arguably have been the frontrunner for this year’s Ballon d’Or had the award not been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Lewandowski moved from his homeland to Borussia Dortmund in 2010 and has been the most lethal striker in Germany since, with a switch to Bayern Munich helping him to take his game on to the next level.
But before then, Lewandowski made history when he became the first ever player to score four goals in a Champions League tie, with his glut coming in a semi-final thrashing of Real Madrid.
Lewandowski took 77 Champions League matches to reach 50 goals in the competition and at 32 he keeps getting better. Last season saw Lewandowski hit four goals in a 6-0 win over Red Star Belgrade as part of a run that saw him score in nine straight Champions League games.
3. Raul – 71 (Real Madrid, Schalke)
The only retired player in the top five scorers in Champions League history is Raul, the Real Madrid icon who won the tournament three times during his career at the club.
Raul twice topped the scoring charts in the Champions League and he was the first player to reach 50 goals in the competition, as well as the first to pass 100 appearances.
The 2000 Champions League final saw Raul wrap up the scoring in a comfortable 3-0 win over Valencia in Paris, taking him to 10 goals for the season in the tournament.
Then, two years later, Raul opened the scoring for Madrid as they beat Bayer Leverkusen to reclaim the title, though that final is best remembered for Zidane’s stunning volley. Raul will surely move down this list as Benzema and Lewandowski overtake him.
2. Lionel Messi – 115 (Barcelona)
Messi will once more be lining up for Barcelona in the Champions League after his efforts to force a move away from the club this summer were ultimately unsuccessful. Nobody has scored more than Messi’s 115 goals for a single club in the Champions League and he has won the tournament four times with Barca so far.
Messi has claimed the match ball in eight Champions League games and in 2009 he claimed a suite of records for the tournament, including becoming its youngest top goalscorer ever. That season saw Messi score a header against Manchester United in the final – one of only two strikes he has managed in the showpiece to date.
Picking highlights from Messi’s Champions League career is tough, but a four-goal masterclass against Arsenal in a 2010 quarter-final has to be right up there. Second on our list of the Champions League top scorers of all-time and could well end up top, it really comes down to whether him or Ronaldo go on for the longest.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 130 (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
Ronaldo and Messi have been battling for records through their careers but it is the Portuguese who is the all-time top Champions League scorer, with 130 goals in the competition.
Of course, Ronaldo is a few years older than Messi but his commitment to goalscoring simply cannot be understated, with five Champions League winners’ medals collected as a result.
Ronaldo hit 15 or more goals in three Champions League seasons at Real Madrid and he also topped the tournament’s goalscorer list during his time with Manchester United.
No player has scored more than Ronaldo’s four goals in Champions League finals either, but he only hit four strikes in eight games for Juventus in the competition last season.