His team may no longer be able to defend their UEFA Champions League title this season, but FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will be hoping he can still claim an honour in this year's competition.
The Argentinian international will be absent from the Madrid final on 22 May after his side fell to FC Internazionale Milano at the last-four stage, yet with one match to go he still leads the way in the scoring charts. The most prolific player in 2008/09 with nine strikes, Messi bowed out with eight goals this year, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo and Ivica Olić.
Top marksman with eight efforts in 2007/08, Ronaldo will also be unable to add to his haul after Real Madrid CF were beaten in the round of 16. Indeed, the Portugual winger racked up his total in just 450 minutes, giving him a goal every 64 minutes compared to Messi's one every 123 minutes.
Strike rates will count for little when goal totals are tallied up at the end of the campaign, however, and with the next players on the list still active in this year's edition – Inter's Diego Milito and FC Bayern München's Arjen Robben – on four strikes apiece, only Bayern's Olić has a realistic chance of catching Messi.
An often unheralded player in the past, the 30-year-old Croatia international feels he is in the form of his life after his hat-trick in Tuesday's semi-final second leg against Olympique Lyonnais, and he admitted to feeling elated at now having a chance to seize the scorers' crown. "It looks good, doesn't it?" he said in Lyon. "Messi, Ronaldo, Olić – not bad."
Click here for more statistics from this season's UEFA Champions League.
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