Lionel Messi is this season’s top scorer with five UEFA Champions League group stage goals, and is now five points clear of an old friend at the top of the competition’s group stage goals rankings – while his record for goalscoring consistency at this level is the envy of his peers.
Most UEFA Champions League group stage goals
65: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
60: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man. United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
53: Raúl González (Real Madrid, Schalke)
50: Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV, Man. United, Real Madrid, Hamburg)
40: Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid)
38: Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris, Man. United)
38: Thierry Henry (Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona)
33: Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)
30: Andriy Shevchenko (Dynamo Kyiv. AC Milan, Chelsea)
30: Didier Drogba (Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray)
• Five goals in his first two group stage games of 2018/19 have enabled Messi to scamper clear of Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the group stage scorers chart.
Best goals per game ratio (minimum 20 scored)
1.00: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 65 goals in 65 games
0.83: Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV, Man. United, Real Madrid, Hamburg) – 50 goals in 60 games
0.76: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man. United, Real Madrid, Juventus) – 60 goals in 79 games
0.73: Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Paris) – 27 goals in 37 games
0.68: Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid) – 40 goals in 79 games
0.64: Didier Drogba (Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray) – 30 goals in 47 games
0.63: Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund, Bayern München) – 27 goals in 37 games
0.59: Filippo Inzaghi (Juventus, AC Milan) – 30 goals in 51 games
0.57: Roy Makaay (Deportivo, Bayern München) – 27 goals in 47 games
0.56: Sergio Agüero (Atlético. Manchester City) – 27 goals in 48 games
• Messi’s goal-a-game strike rate is astounding, while Ronaldo’s early years as a winger rather than out-and-out forward might explain why he lags a little behind the Argentinian. To match Messi’s ratio, Ronaldo would need to score 30 goals in his next 11 group stage games.
• Edinson Cavani would seem a more realistic contender for Messi’s place at the top of this particular table; if the Uruguayan hit a hat-trick in each of his next five games, he would join Messi at the summit.
Most UEFA Champions League group stage appearances
111: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid, Porto)
96: Raúl González (Real Madrid, Schalke)
95: Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
92: Ryan Giggs (Man. United)
86: Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid, Fenerbahçe)
81: Paul Scholes (Man. United)
81: Gary Neville (Man. United)
79: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man. United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
77: Luís Figo (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan)
77: David Beckham (Man. United, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain)
• Goalkeeper Casillas’s record for group stage appearances looks safe for the time being; his only active rival in the top ten, Cristiano Ronaldo, has made 32 fewer outings.
• Even if Casillas – still on active duty for Porto aged 37 – retires before matchday three, Ronaldo would not have a chance to catch him until matchday five of the 2024/25 season, by which time he will be 39.