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If Haaland continues to score at this pace, Cristiano will have one less achievement.

In the Champions League, the most exciting thing begins - the playoffs. For the first time since 2006, it will be held without the top scorer in the tournament's history - Cristiano Ronaldo. The 38-year-old Portuguese with ex-agent Jorge Mendes was looking for options in December to sign a contract with a club participating in the Champions League. But in the end, the Portuguese went to Saudi Arabia. Ronaldo has scored 140 goals in 183 matches since his debut in the tournament in 2003. And who is pursuing Cristiano in absentia in the Champions League scorer race of all time?

Lionel Messi (PSG) - 129 goals in 161 matches

Ronaldo's main competitor, of course, is Messi. The Argentine debuted in the Champions League two years later than Cristiano - in 2005. However, Messi is ahead of Ronaldo in terms of performance: if the Portuguese had an average of 0.76 goals per game, then Leo had 0.8. So the 2022 world champion has a good chance of becoming the first in the near (relatively) time.
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But Messi has a different problem: his current club, PSG, is in crisis ahead of the round of 16 matches against Bayern. The team was defeated in the French Cup by Marseille (1:2) and in the championship by Monaco (1:3). The media also reported an outbreak of a viral infection in the club. Remember the injuries of the most important players. In addition to Messi himself, midfielder Marco Verratti is experiencing discomfort on the eve of the first leg of the playoffs, and forward Kylian Mbappe was injured in the Ligue 1 match against Montpellier on February 1. Earlier, it was reported that all three would be ready to play with Bayern, but it is still being determined in what condition they will appear on the field. So Messi may have to postpone the race for Ronaldo's record.

Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona) - 91 goals in 111 matches

Barcelona is missing the current playoffs, but they have a player from the three top scorers of the Champions League of all time. Surprisingly, Lewandowski has outpaced both Ronaldo and Messi in tournaments, scoring an average of 0.81 goals per game since 2011. He could have pulled ahead with such a pace, but age is already running out: the Pole is in his 35th year. So it will be difficult to win back a handicap of 49 balls for natural reasons.
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Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) - 86 goals in 146 games

If Ronaldo had not spent nine years in Madrid, then Benzema would have taken his place at the top of the list. The Frenchman revealed himself as much as possible after the Portuguese left Real Madrid and even won the Golden Ball in 2022. From 2009 to 2018, Benzema successfully served as a carrier of shells for Ronaldo; Karim cleverly adapted to their best qualities of Cristiano. Such altruism brought them four joint Champions League trophies, but the Portuguese went too far in terms of statistics. The Frenchman is only fourth on the list of the best Champions League scorers in history with 86 goals. Benzema just turned 35, and it's hard to imagine that he can even come close to Ronaldo's numbers.
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Kylian Mbappé (PSG) - 40 goals in 59 games

One of the players with a good chance of overtaking both Messi and Ronaldo on the list. Mbappe is only 24 years old and has at least 10 years of a top-level career ahead of him. Kilian is unlikely to miss the Champions League and playoffs, especially if he remains in a comfortable French championship. PSG, even before the start of the season, has a direct ticket to the Champions League.
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Three factors can interfere with Mbappe's bombarding exploits: the frequent failures of his club in the playoffs (PSG reached the final only once during the striker's performances), the Frenchman's poor performance (while he scores 0.6 goals per match, you need to add to the level Messi / Ronaldo) and injuries (even now, before the meetings with Bayern, he was injured). Kilian's transfer to Real Madrid will make it easier for him to race for the "celestials": do not forget that Madrid attracts the Champions League trophy like a magnet. Consequently, in the Spanish capital, Mbappe will have the opportunity to play more matches in the tournament.

Erling Haaland (Manchester City) - 28 goals in 23 games

The 22-year-old Norwegian frightens and delights all of Europe with his performance. Haaland is in first place in the history of the Champions League in terms of the average number of goals per match in the tournament: he scores 1.21 goals per meeting. For comparison, in second place is the legendary Gerd Muller (34 goals in 35 games); his figure is 0.97. If the Norwegian striker continues to score at this pace, he will break the record by playing 116 matches in the tournament (recall, Ronaldo has 183). For the moment, it is Holland who should be considered the player who will be the first to bypass Ronaldo and Messi. In addition, Erling is 1.5 years younger than Mbappe, and the whole team is aiming for his goals (for example, at PSG, Kylian shares his goals with Messi and Neymar).
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What do you think: can someone overtake Ronaldo in the list of the best Champions League scorers in history? And if so, who will be the first: Messi, Mbappe, Haaland, or will Lewandowski or Benzema miraculously do it?