It’s that time of year again. Winter is in his final days (at least that’s what the calendar says), meaning the Champions League knockout stages are here. Starting today, with Barcelona, Leverkusen, Lyon and APOEL opening things up, we’re here with an updated version of our list – the Top ten scorers in the history of the Champions League (since 1992), from Real Madrid’s scoring machine Cristiano Ronaldo, to the man who breathes and bleeds Real Madrid but plays for Schalke, Raul.
Number 10 – Fernando Morientes – 33 Goals
Now retired, it’s been over 3 years since Morientes has scored a Champions League goal. He has played with Marseille in the competition last season, but he didn’t score. Morientes best days came quite a long time ago, while he was with Real Madrid and won three champions league titles, scoring in their 2000 3-0 victory over Valencia. Personally, his best season in the UCL came in 2003-2004 with Monaco, scoring 9 goals, leading the scorers in the contest that season, leading the French side to the final, before losing to Porto 3-0.
Number 9 - Didier Drogba – 39 Goals
He certainly isn’t the most popular player in the world among players, fans and referees, but Drogba, if you look past the dirty elbows and antics and diving and complaining, is a fantastic player and scorer, with 32 goals in 63 champions league matches. Despite having quite a few memorable goals and reaching the finals of the competition with Chelsea in 2008, Drogba’s most memorable moment in the competition is probably his rant against Tom Henning Ovrebo after Chelsea’s controversial exit against Barcelona two seasons ago in the Champions League semi final.
Number 8 – Alessandro Del Piero – 41 Goals
The way Juventus have been playing this season, I’m not sure Del Piero will get to play another Champions League game in his career. Del Piero himself isn’t getting too many minutes any more and has only four league goals plus three in the Europa League. I’m not even sure he’ll want to play anymore after this season.
Number 7 - Filippo Inzaghi – 46 Goals
The 37 year old Italian is continuing his slow decay before he hangs ‘em up, hardly playing for league leaders AC Milan. In the Champions League he has two goals, both in the same match, the 2-2 draw with Real Madrid.He’s had bad seasons before, but the man who seems to be constantly offside has made remarkable comeback seasons before, so never count him out. He is, after all, he is the all-time leading scorer in European competitions (70 goals).
Number 6 - Andriy Shevchenko – 48 Goals
It’s easy to forget the aging striker playing for Dynamo Kyiv was maybe the best in the world during the earlier parts of the 2000′s. It’s too bad the second part of the decade, which included two abysmal seasons with Chelsea and a failed return to Milan last year. Shevchenko made himself known after scoring a hat trick during Dynamo’s 4-0 win over Barcelona in Spain, later moving on to Milan , winning the Champions League trophy in 2003, scoring the final penalty in the shootout against Juventus. He also missed a penalty in the final two years later against Liverpool. He managed to score one goal in six group matches last season for Dynamo in the UCL, failing to qualify for the next round or the UEFA cup, finishing fourth. This year Dynamo didn’t make the champions league.
Number 4 - Cristiano Ronaldo – 50 Goals
The Portuguese phenom scored 16 goals for Manchester United and won one Champions League trophy with them. His scoring record with Real Madrid (18 UCL goals so far) since arriving in Spain has been matched only by Messi, who a little higher on this list.
Number 4 – Thierry Henry – 50 Goals
I always wonder about Henry. Maybe winning the champions league with Arsenal in 2006 would have cemented him as the best player of the 00′s. Maybe not. Henry got his in 2008-2009, but he wasn’t the same player he was with Arsenal, who pretty much carried Wenger’s team on his back to the 2006 final and two league titles in 2002 and 2004 (going undefeated that season). He wasn’t alone, but he was by far the best player in England during those years.Last season so wasn’t the most memorable for Henry, highlighted by his controversial goal against Ireland in the World Cup qualifying playoff, which brought on a global media assault and demands for FIFA to introduce replays into the game. His departure from the second Arsenal stint will be a Champions League match.
Number 3 – Ruud van Nistelrooy – 56 Goals
Another player who’s not having a great time this year. Well, it’s been actually two years for Ruud, who is only second on this list but his 56 goals in 73 UCL matches is the best goal ratio on this list. He’s been the top Champions League scorer three times and he has been the top scorer in three different domestic leagues in Europe. There were rumors about him returning to Real Madrid previously, but he stayed at Hamburg, where he’s slowly pacing towards retirement, scoring only seven goals. His Malaga numbers (2 goals in 17 matches) haven’t been much better.
Number 2 - Lionel Messi, 58 Goals
The 24 year old Argentinian is moving up the charts like fire on a hot & dry day. He already has 31 goals in 49 Champions League matches with three UCL titles in his resume. A day before Barca clash with Arsenal, we all know that the Gunners don’t handle Messi very well. Four goals in one match last year would make anyone weary of a re-match. Right now, there’s no reason why Messi won’t be on top of this list in 4-5 years time. As of now, he has scored in two different Champions League finals, winning them both (2009, 2011, both against Manchester United).
Number 1 – Raul – 71 Goals
So many records, so many goals. He’s been playing in the UEFA champions league since 1996, scoring 66 goals in 126 matches, including 2 this season. He is Real’s all-time leading goalscorer (226 league goals, 321 in all competitions) and leads the team in appearances. He leads the national team with 44 goals despite not playing since the Euro 2008 qualifiers. He’s won the Champions League three times (1998, 2000, 2002) scoring in the final in both 2000 and 2002. Greatest Real Madrid player ever? Best Spanish player ever? Time will tell, but he’s one of the few living legends actually still playing. Not for Madrid anymore, but he’s doing OK with Schalke.