Lionel Messi vs Robert Lewandowski: how do they measure up?

As Barcelona take on Bayern, UEFA.com puts the teams' star strikers back to back.

Lewandowski v Messi: Their best goals this season
Lewandowski v Messi: Their best goals this season

The UEFA Champions League quarter-final between Barcelona and Bayern brings together two modern greats. UEFA.com gives some background

This season, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have both made seven UEFA Champions League appearances. Top scorer in the competition for the sixth time last season with 12 goals, Messi has scored three this time around, while Lewandowski heads the leaderboard with 13. The Polish international has been in equally superlative form in the Bundesliga, hitting 34 goals in 31 games, while Messi scored 25 in 33 in the Spanish Liga. Both were their domestic leagues' top marksmen for 2019/20.

Have they met before?

Messi celebrates scoring against Bayern at Camp Nou in 2015
Messi celebrates scoring against Bayern at Camp Nou in 2015AFP via Getty Images

Yes, in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League semi-finals – at the end of Lewandowski’s first term with Bayern. Messi had the better of it over two legs. He struck twice as Barcelona won the first leg 3-0, and while Lewandowski made it 2-2 in the return fixture, Bayern’s 3-2 victory was not enough to take them to the Berlin final – where Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1.

The duo’s national teams met in a friendly match in Warsaw in June 2011, but while Lewandowski featured for Poland in a 2-1 win, Messi did not line up for Argentina.

How do they measure up?

MessiLewandowski
Age3331
Height1.701.84

Both players are in their 30s, but still in something like their footballing prime. Of the pair, Lewandowski (at 1.84m) is probably the one you would man-mark from a corner.

UEFA Champions League stats

MessiLewandowski
Appearances14287
Goals11566
Goals-per-game average0.810.76

Messi has won the UEFA Champions League four times already, most recently in 2015, while Lewandowski has yet to lift this trophy. The closest he came was reaching the 2013 final with Borussia Dortmund, losing 2-1 to his future employers Bayern in London.

In terms of goals-per-game ranking, Messi is second in the all-time UEFA Champions League (group stage to final) rankings, while Lewandowski is fifth.

Domestic performances

MessiLewandowski
League games453438
League goals433304
Goals-per-game average0.960.69

Messi has landed ten league titles in 16 seasons of senior football; Lewandowski has won nine national championships in the course of 14. Similar statistics, yet their career paths have been radically different.

Recognised as a major talent from a young age, Messi moved to Europe to join Barcelona as a teenager and has stayed at Camp Nou ever since. Lewandowski, by contrast, started out in Poland's lower leagues with Znicz Pruszków before picking up his first league title in his second season in the Ekstraklasa with Lech Poznań. He then switched to Germany, sparkling under Jürgen Klopp at Dortmund before signing for Bayern in 2014. He has been a Bundesliga winner in every season there to date.

Personal life

MessiLewandowski
ParentsOnce a steelworks manager, Messi's father Jorge has been his agent since he was 14. His mother Celia helps run his charitable organisation, the Lionel Messi Foundation. As a measure of his filial devotion, Messi had her face tattooed on his shoulder. Lewandowski's late father Krzysztof was a Polish judo champion and lower-league footballer, who named his son Robert in anticipation of junior one day moving abroad to play football. Mother Iwona played top-flight volleyball.
PartnerAntonella Messi (originally Roccuzzo): the cousin of a close childhood friend.Anna Lewandowska (originally Stachurska): a karate expert and nutritionist.
ChildrenThree sonsTwo daughters