Messi Was Faster To 100, But Ronaldo’s UCL Knockout Stage Record Is Untouchable

Messi was faster than Ronaldo to 100 UCL goals, but the Real Madrid star still boasts a superior record in the knockout stages.

A few weeks ago, Lionel Messi reached the landmark of 100 goals in the UEFA Champions League, joining Cristiano Ronaldo as the only footballer to achieve the feat. The following comparisons between the two were inevitable, because for the last 10 years, it’s just been Ronaldo and Messi at the top of the world’s premier club competition.

In fact, you’d have to go back to the 2006-07 season and AC Milan’s Kaká to find the last Champions League top scorer by season not named Ronaldo or Messi. 

The fact that’s been brought up frequently over the last few weeks is that Messi reached 100 goals in only 123 games — a breathtaking average of 0.81 goals per game in the competition. 

The 33-year-old Ronaldo, on the other hand, has taken 152 games to get to his grand total of 118 in the UCL — a measly 0.77 goals per game. Remarkably, it’s also worth nothing that Ronaldo did not score his first goal in the competition until his 30th appearance (the step overs got in the way).

And so while there’s no denying Messi’s ultimately superior strike rate, there’s also something worth pointing out from Real Madrid’s 5-2 humbling of PSG and the three goals from Ronaldo: in the knockout rounds, Ronaldo has still got the better numbers.

Messi has played 60 games of knockout football in the UCL, scoring 40 goals (0.66 per game). Ronaldo has played in 70, scoring 57 goals (eerily similar to Messi’s overall rate of 0.81 goals per game).

And if you break it down by round, you see how truly inspirational these two otherworldly talents are: Of his 40 knockout round goals, Messi has scored 24 in the Round of 16, 10 in the quarters, four in the semis and two in the finals. 

Ronaldo has scored 20 in the Round of 16, 20 in the quarters, 13 in the semis and four in the finals (Ronaldo is also the only player to score in three Champions League finals). 

Messi vs Ronaldo Champions League stats

We'd like an El Clasico in the UCL. Photo: @soccer_mate | Twitter

The Portuguese’s brilliance when it matters most is further vindicated by the fact that he was the first player to compile 50 knockout round goals. The club’s opponent in the quarterfinals, Juventus, certainly understands this better than most.

In the end, the numbers are just madness. We haven’t even thrown around assist statistics (Ronaldo has the most of all time with 39, including 14 in the knockout stages; Messi is second most with 34, including 12 when it matters most), but the two obviously offer a lot more to their sides than just goals.

UEFA did us all a favor by scheduling Juventus vs. Real Madrid on Tuesday and Barcelona vs. Roma on Wednesday, because if we’ve learned anything from the above number crunching, it’s that these two don’t disappoint. 

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