The early season international break has come to an end, which means the return of European competitions are just around the corner! Tomorrow, the Champions League returns to feature some massive games in the opening week- including PSG v Arsenal, Barcelona v Celtic and Juventus v Sevilla!
Spanish football has dominated these competitions during the past three seasons, with Real Madrid (2) and Barcelona winning the Champions League, whilst Sevilla have dominated the Europa League to land three consecutive titles- which earned them qualification for the Champions League once again this term.
In the early stages, it can sometimes be a case of goals, goals and more goals- down to the fact that some sides are far weaker than their elite opponents. That gives the player’s themselves a chance to increase their goal haul in the competition, which is why we’re running down the top 11 scorers in Champions League history today!
Note: All statistics correct as of 12th September 2016. Data collected is from Champions League era only, post-1992 players are not featured.
11. Alessandro Del Piero (42)
The Italian veteran was a superstar with Juventus in the years between 1994 and 2009, where he scored 42 goals for the Turin side in 89 appearances- a ratio of 0.46 goals a game. With all of his goals coming from one club, Del Piero is one of just two players who’ve made the list with just one Champions League club to their name. Del Piero won the competition in 1996 and was runner-up in the following two seasons, as well as in 2003.
10. Didier Drogba (44)
The Ivorian is the highest-scoring African player in Champions League history, scoring the majority of his goals during his prime years at Chelsea. However, Drogba also took to the field in Europe’s elite competition representing Marseille, before he moved to the Premier League, and Galatasaray. His defining moment came in 2012, where he scored the winning penalty to see Chelsea become the first London side to win the Champions League.
9. Filippo Inzaghi (46)
Scoring a combined 46 goals in the Champions League for two of Italy’s biggest clubs, Juventus and AC Milan, Filippo Inzaghi played a key-part in some of Italian football’s finest years. He lifted the Champions League twice with Milan, in 2003 and 2007, and he’ll be aiming to add a third title to his collection during his managerial career.
8. Karim Benzema (46)
Scoring 46 goals in 81 Champions League appearances, Karim Benzema has a goal ratio to compete with the finest and, combined with partner Cristiano Ronaldo, the Frenchman forms a devastating duo in attack for Los Blancos. Benzema started his career in Lyon before moving to the Spanish capital, where he has won two Champions League titles in the past three seasons.
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (48)
Scoring 48 goals in 119 appearances for some of Europe’s biggest sides, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the most travelled player on this list. The Swedish international has featured in the competition for Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain but has never lifted Europe’s prized trophy- with bad luck seeing his former sides lifting the honour the season after he left.
6. Andriy Shevchenko (48)
With 48 goals in 100 appearances, Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko was one of the best attackers in the world during his prime. After making the grade at Dynamo Kiev, he became a global icon during his time with AC Milan and won the Champions League in 2003. He then moved to Chelsea, where he struggled, and is now the manager of Ukraine’s national side.
5. Thierry Henry (50)
One of only five players to score fifty goals in Europe’s elite competition, a record that includes the decades before the Champions League rebrand, Thierry Henry was a deadly finisher in his prime. Henry was a beaten finalist in the Champions League with Arsenal in 2006, before finally getting his hands on the trophy in 2009 following his move to Barcelona.
4. Ruud Van Nistelrooy (56)
Representing three clubs in the Champions League; PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Real Madrid, only three players have outscored Ruud Van Nistelrooy in Europe’s elite competition and he boasts the best conversion rate on this list- netting 56 goals in 73 appearances, averaging 0.77 goals a game. However, he never lifted the trophy as he left Old Trafford before Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won the competition in 2008.
3. Raul (71)
The iconic Spanish forward was the tournament’s top-scorer for a long time, with 71 goals in 142 appearances, and he won three Champions League titles with Real Madrid; 1998, 2000 and 2001. Raul then moved to the Bundesliga to join Schalke, where he added more goals to his impressive tally, but it wasn’t enough to stop two of the world’s finest players from surpassing him.
2. Lionel Messi (83)
There was a time when Lionel Messi was in a tight race with his arch-nemesis for the honour of being the highest scoring player in Champions League history but, in recent years, he’s fallen behind a bit. That’s not down to his goalscoring though, as his tally of 83 goals in 106 games is remarkable. All of those efforts have come for one club, Barcelona, and he has won a sensational four trophies; in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2014.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (93)
Pulling ahead of Lionel Messi in recent years, Cristiano Ronaldo should become the first player to hit 100 goals in Europe’s elite competition this season. Since 2010, Ronaldo has hit double-figures in the Champions League in every season- including his record 17 goals during the 2014 season. The Portuguese legend has won three trophies in the competition, one with Manchester United in 2008 and now two in three years with Real Madrid.