Who are the all-time top group stage scorers?

The 27th UEFA Champions League group stage is getting under way; who are the top scorers at this level?

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Lionel Messi is five goals clear at the top of the standings; can his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo close the gap this autumn?

Statistics do not include goals and appearances from the second group stage (1999/2000 to 2002/03)

Most UEFA Champions League group stage goals*

Messi's European goals: 2005-2018
Messi's European goals: 2005-2018

66: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
61: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
43: Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid)
39: Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Hamburg)
37: Raúl González (Real Madrid, Schalke)
36: Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Internazionale Milano, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris, Manchester United)
35: Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern München)
31: Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)
30: Didier Drogba (Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray)
29: Thierry Henry (Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona)
29: Filippo Inzaghi (Juventus, AC Milan)

• Six goals in 2018/19 enabled Messi to move clear of Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the group stage scorers chart.

Best goals per game ratio (minimum 20 scored)

Van Nistelrooy: My top three goals
Van Nistelrooy: My top three goals

0.97: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 66 goals in 68 games
0.76: Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Hamburg) – 39 goals in 51 games
0.73: Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund, Bayern München) – 35 goals in 48 games
0.73: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus) – 61 goals in 84 games
0.72: Roy Makaay (Deportivo La Coruña, Bayern München) – 23 goals in 32 games
0.68: Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain) – 28 goals in 41 games
0.67: Karim Benzema (Lyon, Real Madrid) – 43 goals in 64 games
0.64: Didier Drogba (Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray) – 30 goals in 47 games
0.62: Filippo Inzaghi (Juventus, AC Milan) – 29 goals in 47 games
0.57: Sergio Agüero (Atlético Madrid, Manchester City) – 28 goals in 49 games

Edinson Cavani: challenging for top spot
Edinson Cavani: challenging for top spot©AFP/Getty Images

• Messi's close to a goal-a-game strike rate is astounding, while Ronaldo's early years as a winger rather than out-and-out forward might explain why he lags behind the Argentinian.

• Edinson Cavani would seem a more realistic contender for Messi's place at the top of this particular table; if the Uruguayan hit a hat-trick in each of his next five games, he would overtake Messi at the summit.

Most UEFA Champions League group stage appearances

Iker Casillas: still stretchy at 37
Iker Casillas: still stretchy at 37©AFP/Getty Images

95: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid, Porto)
84: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
80:
Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
77: Raúl González (Real Madrid, Schalke)
74: Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
74: Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Internazionale Milano, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris, Manchester United)
72: Clarence Seedorf (Ajax, Real Madrid, AC Milan)
69: Sergei Ignashevich (Lokomotiv Moskva, CSKA Moskva)
68: Gianluigi Buffon (Parma, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain)
68: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
67: Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid, Fenerbahçe)

Goalkeeper Casillas's record for group stage appearances looks safe for the time being; his only active rival in the top ten, Cristiano Ronaldo, has made 11 fewer outings.

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