Bayern Munich’s convincing 3-0 win over Barcelona last Wednesday night not only saw the Catalan side crash out of the Champions League, it also proved a memorable evening for Thomas Muller as he netted his 50th goal in the competition.
The German international is the latest stellar talent to have reached a half-century of goals in Europe’s premier tournament, with only an elite list of names having reached that milestone.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the eight players to have scored 50 or more goals in the Champions League to date.
50 – Thomas Muller
Bayern’s triumph may have been somewhat overshadowed by the fallout of Barcelona’s failure to reach the knockout stages for the first time in two decades, although the result was notable for the German outfit as they maintained their 100% record in the group stage – the second time in three seasons that they have achieved that feat.
Much of that success has been spearheaded by prolific marksman Robert Lewandowski, although Muller has once again been the unsung hero in Julian Nagelsmann’s side, the 32-year-old seeking a third Champions League triumph in what’s been a stellar, trophy-laden career thus far.
The one-club man and World Cup winner has seemingly particularly enjoyed coming up against the Camp Nou outfit in the competition, once again proving their nemesis as he bagged his eighth goal in just seven appearances against the La Liga side.
50 – Thierry Henry
Arsenal’s record goalscorer was just a matter of minutes away from lifting the Champions League with the Gunners in 2006, before a late surge from Barcelona denied Arsene Wenger’s side the trophy in dramatic fashion.
As they say, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, with Henry going on to make the switch to Catalonia a year later after bagging 226 goals in all competitions for the north London side, including 35 Champions League goals.
Having previously netted seven times in the competition with Monaco, the Frenchman would then score a further eight goals with Barca to wrap his half-century, notably clinching a coveted European honour with victory over Manchester United in the showpiece in 2009.
While he would taste success under Pep Guardiola, it was for his prolific spell in England that the striker is most fondly remembered, Henry having lit up the Premier League in a devastating eight-year spell and been vital to that famed ‘Invincibles’ side in the 2003/04 season.
56 – Ruud van Nistelrooy
Vying with Henry for the Golden Boot for much of that time was Ruud Van Nistelrooy, the Dutchman enjoying a blistering five-year spell at Manchester United after joining from PSV Eindhoven in 2001.
Of his 150 goals in 219 games in all competitions for the club, the striker scored 35 in the Champions League, notably registering 12 goals in the competition during the 2002/03 season as United reached the quarter-final stage.
A simply ruthless and single-minded striker, his goalscoring exploits didn’t necessarily translate to team success as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side claimed just a solitary league title during Van Nistelrooy’s time at the club.
After joining Real Madrid in 2006 following an acrimonious exit from Old Trafford, he would add a further two league titles to his collection over the next four years, although again came up short on the continent, ensuring he is the only player on this list not have won the Champions League.
71 – Raul
A man who perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves, Raul was for so long the goalscoring figurehead at Real Madrid, having risen the youth ranks before making his debut in 1994.
Over the next 16 years, he would go on to score 323 goals in 741 appearances for the club, winning six league titles and three Champions League honours in what was a real golden period in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Despite the stellar list of names that arrived through the door at the Bernabeu amid the ‘Galactico’ era, the Spaniard continually kept his place in the side under a succession of managers, before eventually departing for Bundesliga side Schalke in 2010.
Under the guidance of Ralf Rangnick, the German outfit upset the odds to reach the semi-final’s of the competition in Raul’s debut campaign at the club, the forward netting five goals en route to the last four, including scoring home and away in the win over holders Inter Milan in the quarter-final.
76 – Karim Benzema
Raul’s former teammate in Madrid for a brief time, Karim Benzema is currently the club’s undoubted talisman having assumed a more important role following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus in 2018.
Prior to that, the former Lyon man – who had moved to the Spanish capital in 2009 – had largely played second fiddle to the Portuguese sensation, sacrificing his own game in order to get the very best out of arguably one of the game’s greatest ever talents.
That dynamic duo were integral as the club won the Champions League four times in the space of just five seasons, including three successive triumphs under club legend Zinedine Zidane between 2015 and 2018.
Since then, it’s been something of a transitional period for the La Liga giants, although the Frenchman has largely been the glue holding it all together, the 33-year-old already bagging 17 goals in all competitions so far this season, including five in the Champions League.
82 – Robert Lewandowski
Despite his recent Ballon d’Or snub, there has perhaps been no better player in Europe in the past year or so than Robert Lewandowski, the Poland international having been in consistently prolific form both domestically and in Europe.
While he has long been a lethal presence in front of goal – as illustrated by his current tally of 513 club career goals – the last two years have been particularly impressive for the former Borussia Dortmund man.
Last term saw the 34-year-old break Gerd Muller’s long-standing record for most Bundesliga goals in a single campaign (41), while he already has 27 goals in all competitions this season, having also netted nine Champions League goals thus far – a feat only bettered by Ajax’s Sebastian Haller (10).
He would appear on course to better his best tally of 15 from the 2019/20 campaign in which Bayern romped to the title, while he recently set a new landmark having scored the most goals in his first 100 Champions League games (81).
125 – Lionel Messi
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. Four-time Champions League winner. Ten-time La Liga champion. And Barcelona’s record goalscorer with 672 goals. Does much more need to be said about Lionel Messi?
In what’s been a truly mind-boggling career thus far, the Argentine genius has broken records galore and won a plethora of honours, both individual and collective, with time left still to add even more silverware to his already substantial trophy collection.
As for the Champions League, in particular, the 34-year-old leads the way for most goals by a player at a single club (120 at Barcelona), while his latest brace for new side Paris Saint-Germain against Club Brugge ensured he now has a record 76 group stage goals in the competition – three clear of long-time rival, Ronaldo.
Despite some teething problems since his move to Paris, Messi already has five Champions League goals this season, with Mauricio Pochettino’s star-studded side likely to go deep in the competition again this term.
140 – Cristiano Ronaldo
Leading the way for goals scored in the Champions League, however, is that man Ronaldo, the 36-year-old seemingly defying physics to keep producing the goods even with his veteran status.
A five-time winner of the competition, the Portugal icon looks set on adding yet another trophy to his collection this season, having almost single-handedly dragged Manchester United through group stages with six goals thus far, including notable late winners against both Villarreal and Atalanta.
The greatest marksman in Champions League history, the former Juventus man – who returned to Old Trafford this summer after a 12-year absence – also recently became the leading appearance maker in the competition after moving ahead of Iker Casillas (177) with his tally currently at 181.
He also holds the record for the most goals scored in a single Champions League season, having plundered 17 during Madrid’s triumph in the 2013/14 season.