13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano Ronaldo

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Lionel Messi still has time to match Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi still has time to match Cristiano Ronaldo's five Champions League wins, among other records (Image: Getty Images)

With Cristiano Ronaldo suggesting he has played his final game in Europe, his Champions League records are up for grabs.

"As you mentioned before, my work in Europe is done," the Portugal striker said upon being unveiled by new club Al-Nassr. "I won everything, I played at the most important clubs and for me now, it is a new challenge in Asia."

Ronaldo won the Champions League with Manchester United for the first time in 2008, before adding several further victories with Real Madrid. Across nearly 20 years-worth of games in Europe's top club competition, he broke all kinds of records - but Lionel Messi has a chance to make up ground on his great rival.

With Ronaldo failing to lead Manchester United into this season's Champions League, Messi has been able to claw his way towards some of those records. The World Cup winner signed a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, the same summer in which Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford, and is expected to agree an extension despite interest from Major League Soccer.

Even if he sees out this season and adds a further year in Paris, Messi might not be able to catch Ronaldo in some respects. Here, Mirror Football looks at the records in the Argentine's sights.

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1. Most appearances

How many of Ronaldo's records will Messi claim? Have your say in the comments section!

13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo's last Champions League game came for Manchester United against Atletico Madrid (PA)

The first record is perhaps the most straightforward. Ronaldo has played 187 times in the competition, per UEFA's official numbers, six ahead of second-place Iker Casillas, with Messi third on 161.

If PSG reach this season's final, with Messi featuring in each of their knockout games, that would take him up to 168. An ever-present 2023-24 campaign on top of that would take him within touching distance of Ronaldo, but the 35-year-old would need to keep going even beyond then to catch the Portuguese.

2. Most goals

13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano RonaldoLionel Messi has been among the goals for PSG this season (AFP via Getty Images)

Ronaldo also leads the way for all-time Champions League goals with 141. Messi is just 12 behind, so his rival's total does not seem insurmountable.

Messi already has four goals in this season's competition. He netted in away games against Maccabi Haifa and Benfica before bagging a brace at home to the former side in October.

3. Most assists

Messi also has four assists in this season's competition. Two of them came in that 7-2 win against Maccabi Haifa, with one arriving in PSG's final group game against Juventus.

That brought him within two of Ronaldo's tally of 42, though he isn't the only player who can catch the veteran. Former PSG teammate Angel Di Maria is on 38, having laid on three group-stage goals, though Juve's elimination means he cannot add to that total this season.

4. Most penalties scored

13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano RonaldoMessi missed from the spot in the 2021-22 Champions League (AFP via Getty Images)

Messi's penalty record is often viewed as the one sign that he is human. A conversion rate below 80 per cent includes a miss at the World Cup for Argentina and one against Real Madrid in the Champions League last season.

Even so, he has scored 18 Champions League penalties to go along with his five misses. That's one penalty goal shy of Ronaldo's record, though Robert Lewandowski - on 16 - will feel he might still have a say in the matter.

5. Most goals scored in one season

The 2011-12 season saw Messi set his high water-mark for Champions League goals with 14. Ronaldo holds the all-time record, though, scoring 17 in the 2013-14 season as his Real Madrid team lifted the trophy.

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13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo's extra-time goal in the 2013-14 Champions League final was his 17th that season (Getty Images)

6. Most top-scorer awards

That 2013-14 season was one of seven times Ronaldo has top-scored in the Champions League. Messi has achieved the feat six times, but Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappe have seven goals to Messi's four this season while three players - including the already-eliminated Lewandowski - scored five in the group stages.

7. Most goals in knockout games

13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo's last Champions League knockout goal came for Juventus against Lyon in 2020 (Getty Images)

While Ronaldo has infamously never scored in a World Cup knockout game, it's a different story in the Champions League. More than a third of his goals in the competittion - 67, all in - have come in the knockout stages.

Messi is some way behind here, with just 49. Barring a remarkable late-career rally, this is one record Ronaldo looks likely to keep.

8. Most finals scored in

Ronaldo has netted in three Champions League finals: in 2008 for Manchester United, in 2014 for Real Madrid and twice in 2017 for Los Blancos. Messi is one behind, having scored for Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 finals.

9. Most consecutive games scored in

This one is a real doozy. Between June 2017 and April 2018, Ronaldo netted in 11 consecutive Champions League matches, scoring 17 times in total during the run.

Messi managed three in a row this season before drawing a blank against Juve, and this remains his best run in PSG colours. During his Barcelona spell, he twice scored in five straight games, including 10 in five group games in 2016.

10. Perfect group-stage record

13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano RonaldoLionel Messi scored in all five group games he played in 2016-17, but has never matched Cristiano Ronaldo's six out of six (PA)

Messi was denied a chance to score in all six group games in 2016, having missed the win at Borussia Monchengladbach through injury. Ronaldo is one of two men to score in every group game in a single season, along with Sebastien Haller for Ajax in 2021-22, but Messi could have another chance to match him next term.

11. Most UEFA best player awards

The award for the best player in the Champions League has varied during the careers of Messi and Ronaldo, but that doesn't change the gap at the top of the leaderboard. If we combine the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year Award with its successors - the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award and UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award - Ronaldo pips Messi with four wins to his rival's three.

12. Most team of the year appearances

Ronaldo made it into UEFA's team of the year - which is selected by fans - for the first time in 2004, with Messi waiting until 2008 for his first appearance. The Al-Nassr man eventually ended his time in Europe with 15 inclusions in the team, and Messi - who has 12 - is unlikely to catch him up.

13. Most Champions League wins

13 Champions League records Lionel Messi can snatch from Cristiano RonaldoLionel Messi won the Champions League for the fourth time in 2015 (Getty Images)

Last of all, it's the big one. Ronaldo doesn't stand alone with five Champions League titles - his former Real Madrid team-mates Casemiro, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric joined him there in 2022 - but Messi is one behind.

The PSG man made a number of appearances for Barcelona in their run to glory in 2006, though he missed out on featuring in the final, and he played a far bigger role as Barca added further titles in 2009, 2011 and 2015. Success in 2023 would see him join Ronaldo on five, and make him the second man to reach the tally while winning the competition with two different clubs.

Tom Victor

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