The Fifa 2016 Golden Ball was awarded in the last few hours, the highest award for a player. And once again the final classification was marked by a head-to-head between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, won this year by the Barcelona forward. A duel that has been repeated over the last few years. In fact, since 2008 the Ballon d’Or has always been awarded to one of them. And it is from that year, with the sole exception of 2010, that the two are placed in first and second place in the standings.
THE RONALDO-MESSI DUALISM
But the Ronaldo-Messi dualism, which distinguishes this football era of ours, is not limited to the Golden Ball. It invests all the main statistics both in the Spanish La Liga and in Europe. And also, of course, in the Champions League.
The two aces playing in the Iberian league, in fact, are currently the two greatest scorers ever in the history of the competition. With, among other things, an impressive average goal, especially when considered bearing in mind the large number of games played. But who is in front? And who occupies the other top positions? Here are the top five places.
The Portuguese’s revenge with 89 goals
Well yes: the most prolific forward ever in the European Cup / Champions League is, at least for now, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese ace scored 89 goals in the top European club competition, 16 with Manchester United and 73 with Real Madrid. The first arrived in August 2005, at the age of 20, in the preliminary round between Manchester and Debrecen; the fiftieth with Galatasaray in the quarter-finals of 2013.
The overall appearances, so far, are 125, which means that the average is 0.71 goals per game. A much higher figure than all other active players, with the exception, as we shall see, of Messi. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s career is still long: he has yet to turn 31 and his physique seems in excellent shape.
It is not difficult to foresee another two or three years at the top of the world, and probably even more. In his individual Palmares so far there are 3 Golden Balls, 4 Golden Boots, 1 top scorer in the Premier League, 4 in Liga, and 4 in the Champions League. And also a Puskás Award for the best goal, the one scored in 2009 against Porto in the Champions League. Goals you can see below.
Behind Ronaldo with 80 goals, but with a better average
As mentioned, for once Ronaldo beats Messi without a doubt, leaving him behind by 9 goals in the standings. The partial revenge him, however, the Flea takes it when you look better at the statistics and in particular the average.
The Barcelona player boasts 23 fewer appearances than Ronaldo in the Champions League, being two years younger and having made his debut a little later. Thus, his average manages to be higher than that of his Portuguese rival: 0.78 goals per game against 0.71. This also means that, if his physique continues to allow him to express himself at these levels, Messi has a good chance of going to undermine the record of the Real player.
The goals were all scored with the Barcelona shirt, which Messi has played throughout his professional career. Their debut in the Champions League took place in the 2004/05 season, while his first goal came the following year, in the season in which Barça beat Arsenal in the final.
CHAMPIONSHIPS AND CHAMPIONS
La Pulse – too young – did not participate in the final, closed by Eto’o, Giuly, Ronaldinho, and Larsson, but would make up for it in the following seasons. In his Palmares, in addition to seven Spanish championships, there are in fact three other Champions.
In 2009 he was the top scorer and also scored in the final against Manchester United (Ronaldo’s own). In 2011 he repeated both feats, scoring another goal in the final against United. Last year, finally, he shared the title of a top scorer with Neymar and Ronaldo but did not score in the final against Juve.
Real’s flag (with an appendix in Germany) at 71
The third player in the Spanish league able to reach the top of the Champions League scorer was Raúl, a long-time star of Real Madrid. Born in the Spanish capital in 1977, he started playing for Atlético Madrid as a child, only to move to Real at the age of 15.
His debut in the Champions League came in 1995, at just 18 years old, when – already the owner of the Blancos attack – he immediately stood out with 6 goals in 8 appearances. Three years later came the first Cup, followed by that of 2000 (with the title of the top scorer on par with Mário Jardel and Rivaldo and a goal in the final). Finally, in 2002 the last title with a further goal in the final with Bayer Leverkusen.
In 2010, after setting the attendance record for Real and having also won six league titles and two Pichichi Della Liga titles, he moved abroad. He thus joined Schalke 04, in Germany, which allowed him, at least in the first season, to continue to increase his tally of goals in the top European competition.
He then ended his career between Qatar and the United States, retiring in 2015 with the New York Cosmos shirt. He is currently the technical director of the youth sector of the same American team.
Ruud van Nistelrooij
60 goals between the Netherlands, England, and Spain
Let’s go back to very high achievement averages with Ruud van Nistelrooij. The famous Dutch striker has in fact scored 60 goals in just 81 matches in the Champions League, with an average of 0.74 goals per game which is even higher than that of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Born in Oss in 1976, his career took off at the age of 22, when PSV – the team that had just bought him after a decent championship in Heerenveen – made him debut in the Champions League. Immediately the first year he scored 6 goals in 7 games, then also signed 31 in the league. The following year he did even better, with 32 goals in 32 official matches.
He then moved on to Manchester United, where, in the first three seasons, he scored 36, 44, and 30 official goals. In the Champions League, he became the top scorer in 2002 (but the team stopped in the semifinals), in 2003 (eliminated in the quarterfinals), and in 2005.
FROM UNITED TO REAL
In 2006 he then landed at Real, where he managed to score 13 more goals in 19 games, but his team never managed to get to the bottom. After a year and a half in Hamburg and another year in Málaga, he retired from football. Today he works for the Dutch national team, assisting former Ajax star Danny Blind.
The first among those who have played in an Italian team, at 59
Just one goal behind van Nistelrooij is the first scorer to have worn the jersey of an Italian team, Andrij Shevchenko. The Ukrainian talent entered the Champions League stage at the age of 18 with his Dynamo Kyiv. After three interlocutory seasons, in 1997/98 and the following year he made the leap in quality, scoring respectively 6 and 10 goals in the top European tournament and dragging his team first to the quarterfinals and then to the semifinal.
This – and the title of top scorer of the tournament in 1999 – sparked the interest of many Western teams on him. The win was Milan, where he would have done great things.
After a year of adjustment, Shevchenko resumed scoring consistently in Europe, leading his team to two Champions League finals and a semi-final in four years. In Manchester’s victory against Juve, he also signed the decisive penalty for winning the Cup.
Two years later, however, he did not know how to repeat himself, and he was a fatal mistake in the first of the finals with Liverpool. In 2006 he then left the Rossoneri to marry Chelsea, where however he was never able to express himself on his levels (even if in the Champions League he did much better than in the league). He ended his career by returning to Dynamo Kyiv, where he also managed to score a handful of other European goals. Among the individual titles, are the 2004 Golden Ball and two Serie A top scorer titles.