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Messi vs Ronaldo: Who is the Champions League GOAT?

The Barcelona captain locks horns with the Portuguese icon once more, but who has the upper hand in the Champions League?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been going head-to-head in football for over a decade and their magnificence at the very top of the game means both are firmly in the GOAT category.

Games between the rivals have been reduced after Ronaldo’s departure from Real Madrid in 2018, but they can still come up against one another in the Champions League.

Indeed, chance saw Barcelona and Juventus drawn together in the 2020-21 edition of the tournament so many fans are excited by the prospect of another showdown.

But who is the Champions League GOAT – Messi or Ronaldo? Goal takes a look at some of the stats.

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Who has won more Champions Leagues?

Player Champions League titles Years won
Cristiano Ronaldo 5 2007-08, 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18
Lionel Messi 4 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014-15

Ronaldo has won the Champions League five times, which is one more such trophy in the cabinet than Messi, who has won it on four occasions.

While all of Messi’s Champions League triumphs have come with Barcelona – the club he has spent his entire professional career with – Ronaldo has done it with two different clubs.

The Portugal star got his hands on the trophy for the first time in 2007-08 as a Manchester United player, before becoming the key player for Real Madrid on their way to four Champions League titles.

Ronaldo’s last Champions League triumph came in 2018, during the end of Real Madrid’s era of dominance, while Messi has been waiting longer to lift the trophy, having last won it in 2015.

Interestingly, despite being two years younger than Ronaldo, Messi was the first of the pair to get a Champions League winner’s medal.

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The Argentine was part of the successful Barca squad of 2005-06, playing in six Champions League games that season, scoring once. However, he did not feature at all in the final against Arsenal.

Who has won more Champions League top scorer awards?

UCL season Top scorer Goals scored
2007-08 Cristiano Ronaldo 8
2008-09 Lionel Messi 9
2009-10 Lionel Messi 8
2010-11 Lionel Messi 12
2011-12 Lionel Messi 14
2012-13 Cristiano Ronaldo 12
2013-14 Cristiano Ronaldo 17
2014-15 Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi 10
2015-16 Cristiano Ronaldo 16
2016-17 Cristiano Ronaldo 12
2017-18 Cristiano Ronaldo 15
2018-19 Lionel Messi 12

Between them, Ronaldo and Messi topped the Champions League goalscoring charts for 12 consecutive seasons before Robert Lewandowski broke the run with 15 goals in 2019-20.

Ronaldo has finished as the top scorer in the Champions League on seven different occasions. Messi, meanwhile, has been the competition’s top scorer in six different seasons.

Messi’s best Champions League years in terms of top scorer awards came between 2008 and 2012 – during the reign of Pep Guardiola – as he was the best goal-getter for four seasons in a row.

Ronaldo dominanted for six seasons in a row from 2012-13 to 2017-18, though he was forced to share the limelight with Neymar and Messi in 2014-15.

Ronaldo has managed the best personal season between the two of them, bagging a record 17 goals in 2013-14. Messi’s personal best in a single Champions League season is 14 goals (achieved in 2011-12).

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The 2019-20 Champions League season was particularly poor for both players, with Ronaldo scoring four goals in eight games, while Messi scored just three in eight games.

Who has scored more Champions League goals?

Player Goals Games Goals-per-game
Cristiano Ronaldo 132 173 0.76
Lionel Messi 118 146 0.8

When it comes to the question of the overall top goalscorer in the Champions League, Ronaldo is well ahead of Messi.

The Juventus star has scored a remarkable 132 goals in 173 games in the competition, meaning he boasts a goals-per-game ratio of 0.76. In addition to 132 goals in 173 Champions League games, Ronaldo scored one goal in four Champions League qualification games.

Ronaldo’s knack for scoring goals in the continental tournament, as well as his ‘big game’ contributions on the way to the five titles, earned him the moniker ‘Mr Champions League’.

Messi has scored 118 goals in 146 Champions League appearances and, while that is less than Ronaldo, the Barcelona star has a marginally better goals-per-game ratio (0.8)

He is 14 goals behind Ronaldo, but it is notable that he has played 27 fewer games than his perennial rival.

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Assuming Ronaldo retires soon, Messi could well overtake him, should the Argentine continue to score at the rate he has been.

How many times have they played against each other in the Champions League?

While Ronaldo has more Champions League titles and holds the record for most Champions League goals, he has not had a good time when he has played directly against Messi.

Messi and Ronaldo have faced off in the Champions League on five occasions, with Messi coming out on top twice. Ronaldo has been on the winning side once (with Manchester United).

Ronaldo has never scored in the Champions League matches they have played against each other, but Messi has scored three, including a double in the Clasico Champions League semi-final in 2011.

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