From the magical left foot of Lionel Messi to the aerial brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo, each player has left an indelible mark on the Champions League. Let's look at the top scorers in the Champions League group stage and relive some of their incredible goals.
Lionel Messi – 78 Goals
When it comes to the UEFA Champions League, Lionel Messi's exploits are nothing short of legendary. The 7-time Ballon d'Or winner not only holds the record for the most goals in the competition's group stage with 78 but has achieved this feat in an awe-inspiring 84 games. That equates to a staggering goal-to-game ratio of 0.93, a metric that even the great Cristiano Ronaldo failed to match.
One particular recent goal that stands out is his group-stage strike against Manchester City. A masterful dribble and one-two connection with Mbappe led to his first Champions League goal for PSG.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 73 Goals
Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time leading goal scorer in the Champions League, with an incredible 140 goals in 183 appearances. With five Champions League trophies, they don't call him Mr. Champions League for nothing.
In comparison, Messi finished his Champions League career with 129 goals in 161 games. However, CR7's goal tally in the group stages is just a few steps behind Messi.
Ronaldo has hit some absolute bangers in the group stages but this cutback and solo effort against Dynamo Kyiv during the 2007/08 Champions League was outrageous.
Robert Lewandowski – 61 goals
Robert Lewan”goalski,” as former Bayern teammate Thomas Mueller calls him, is indeed a goal machine. The Polish striker has been lethal in front of goal, racking up 61 goals in the Champions League group stages.
His ability to be in the right place at the right time is uncanny. During the 2021/22 season, he scored eight goals in four games to start the group-stage campaign.
Here's the predator opening up his Champions League account for Barcelona last season.
Karim Benzema – 56 goals
King Kareem was unstoppable during Real Madrid's 2021/22 triumphant run. He scored 15 goals during the tournament, becoming the first French player to win the Golden Boot. He subsequently won the 2022 Ballon d'Or, his first.
Benzema finished the Championship group stages with 56 goals, a remarkable feat despite being in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo most of his career.
Raúl González – 53 goals
The legendary Spanish forward scored 53 group-stage goals during his illustrious career. His chip against Manchester United during the 1999-2000 Champions League showcased the composure and class that defined his style.
Ruud van Nistelrooy – 50 goals
Dutch legend Ruud van Nistelrooy also holds an impressive goal-scoring record in the Champions League group stages. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker scored 38 goals in the group stages. However, despite his individual brilliance as a three-time Champions League top goal-scorer, he never won the Champions League during his illustrious career.
Thierry Henry – 38 goals
Henry's grace and finesse were always evident on the field. With 38 group-stage goals, his solo run against Inter Milan in the 2002-03 season remains among his best goals in Champions League history.
Zlatan Ibrahimović – 38 goals
Underrated, overrated — however you want to label Ibrahimovic, he's exciting on and off the pitch. The Swede, who featured for six different top teams in the Champions League, is one of the competition's most prolific group-stage scorers.
Alessandro Del Piero – 33 goals
Lastly, Del Piero's 33 Champions League group-stage goals came with a touch of Italian flair. Del Piero was a maestro with the ball at his feet, known for his superb ball control, dribbling, and precision passing. His set-piece mastery, especially his free kicks, was a spectacle to watch.
Most Goals in the Champions League Group Stage
|Rank||Player Name||Goals||Teams Played For|
|1||Lionel Messi||78||Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain|
|2||Cristiano Ronaldo||73||Man United, Real Madrid, Juventus|
|3||Robert Lewandowski||61||Dortmund, Bayern, Barcelona|
|4||Karim Benzema||56||Lyon, Real Madrid|
|5||Raúl González||53||Real Madrid, Schalke|
|6||Ruud van Nistelrooy||50||PSV, Man United, Real Madrid, Hamburg|
|7||Thierry Henry||38||Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona|
|8||Zlatan Ibrahimović||38||Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Man United|
|9||Alessandro Del Piero||33||Juventus|
|10||Sergio Agüero||32||Atlético, Man City|