Keep on running: #UCL distance masters

No one has run further in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League than Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, but has anyone covered huge distances at a faster pace?

Kevin De Bruyne has run nearly 50km in four UEFA Champions League games
Kevin De Bruyne has run nearly 50km in four UEFA Champions League games ©AFP/Getty Images

Who are the hardest-working players in the UEFA Champions League? Hard to tell, but what we can say without fear of contradiction is who has covered the most distance in this season's competition: Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, with 48,052m in 360 minutes over the first four matchdays.

However, the Belgian's lung-busting average of 133.48m covered per minute is not the most punishing feat of athleticism in this season's competition. Christian Eriksen has played one match fewer than De Bruyne, but has made up for it by covering 37935m in his three games – 140.50m per minute, at an average speed of 8.43km/h.

Cristiano Ronaldo (36,870m in 360 minutes – 6.145km/h) and Lionel Messi (29,802m in 360mins – 4.97km/h) are relative dawdlers by comparison.

Julian Draxler has averaged 8.55km/h in games
Julian Draxler has averaged 8.55km/h in games©AFP/Getty Images

Others have averaged higher speeds: Paris's Julian Draxler covered 19,815m in 139 minutes of football at a rate of 8.55km/h, while Napoli's Amadou Diawara was not much slower, covering 26,892m in 190 minutes (8.49km/h). However, for the purposes of our calculations, they are out of the reckoning – coming under our minimum 200-minute threshold.

So how fast is 8.43km? In a sense, not that spectacular since a human's average waking speed is usually measured at 5.00km/h – but factor in that all our players are constantly changing direction, going from jogging to sprinting, and concentrating on the match, and it is pretty admirable.

Spurs' tireless Christian Eriksen
Spurs' tireless Christian Eriksen©Getty Images

Oh yes, and we worked out that if Eriksen maintained that pace on an as-the-crow-flies run from UEFA headquarters in Nyon to the 2018 UEFA Champions League final venue of the NSK Olimpiyskyi Stadium in Kyiv, he would cover the 1,841.66km journey in about 218.46 hours – or just over nine days.

Top average match speeds by 2017/18 UEFA Champions League players (km/h)*
8.43: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham): 37935/270min: 140.50m/min
8.28: Ghayas Zahid (APOEL): 39614m/287min: 138.03m/min
8.21: Mohamed Elyounoussi (Basel): 39141m/286min: 136.86m/min
8.18: Pieter Gerkens (Anderlecht): 35600m/261min: 136.40m/min
8.15: Marek Hamšík (Napoli): 40471m/298min: 135.88m/min
8.13: Piotr Zieliński (Napoli): 23997m/177min: 135.58m/min
8.09: Blaž Vrhovec (Maribor): 34921m/259min: 134.83m/min
8.01: Kevin De Bruyne (Man. City): 48052m/360min: 133.48m/min
7.99: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Man. United): 37976m/285min: 133.25m/min
7.98: Pablo Sarabia (Sevilla): 29119m/219min: 132.96m/min
7.96: Saúl Ñiguez (Atlético): 47619m/360min: 132.275m/min

*Minimum 200 minutes/three games played