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Who are the all-time Champions League group stage top scorers?

We are into the 32nd edition of the ultimate men's club competition; who are the top scorers at this level?

The usual suspects: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski
The usual suspects: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski ©Getty Images

Most goals in Champions League group stage

Lionel Messi holds the record for most goals in the group stage of the world's elite club competition, his tally of 80 leaving him seven clear at the top of the standings – no prizes for guessing his nearest competitor at the pinnacle of international club goalscoring. Remarkably, the Argentinian has done it in just 84 matches, a ratio of 0.93 goals per game. Even Cristiano Ronaldo does not get close to him on that front.

Robert Lewandowski does, though (0.92), and the Poland striker is clear in third spot in the all-time rankings. The rest of the top ten is a who's who of the best strikers from the past three decades, with Karim Benzema, Raúl González, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Alessandro Del Piero, Sergio Agüero and Mohamed Salah rounding off the list, the latter moving level with Agüero thanks to his seven strikes in 2022/23.

Also among current players, Kylian Mbappé has raced to 28 group stage goals, one more than Erling Haaland. Haaland has reached 27 in the space of just 22 matches, for a ludicrous goals per game ratio of 1.23 per outing. Three of those appearances were as a substitute.

Most goals in Champions League group stage

80 Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain)
73 Cristiano Ronaldo (Man United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
62 Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund, Bayern, Barcelona)**
56
Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid)
53 Raúl González (Real Madrid, Schalke)
50 Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV, Man United, Real Madrid, Hamburg)
38 Thierry Henry (Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona)
38
Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Man United)
33 Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)
32
Sergio Agüero (Atlético, Man City)
32 Mohamed Salah (Basel, Roma, Liverpool)

Lionel Messi's Champions League goals

Players with best goals per game ratio in Champions League group stage***

1.23 Erling Haaland (Salzburg, Dortmund, Man City) – 27 goals / 22 games**
0.93
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 80 / 86
0.87 Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund, Bayern, Barcelona) – 62 / 71**
0.83
Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV, Man United, Real Madrid, Hamburg) – 50 / 60
0.74 Cristiano Ronaldo (Man United, Real Madrid, Juventus) – 73 / 98
0.67 Kylian Mbappé (Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain) – 28 / 42**
0.67 Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid) – 56 / 83
0.64 Didier Drogba (Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray) – 30 / 47
0.64
Mohamed Salah (Basel, Chelsea, Roma, Liverpool) – 30 / 47
0.60 Neymar (Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain) – 29 / 48

Van Nistelrooy: My top three goals

*Statistics include goals and appearances from the second group stage (1999/2000 to 2002/03)
**Includes 2023/24
*** Minimum 20 scored