Cristiano Ronaldo is aiming for a third consecutive season as top scorer in the UEFA Champions League. Last year, the Real Madrid star scored a record 17 goals in the competition beating Messi?s previous record of 14 set in 2011/12.
He scored seven more than his nearest rival, Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris St Germain. Pre-tournament favourite Lionel Messi was joint third with eight goals alongside Diego Costa. It was the third time that Ronaldo had topped the list having also claimed the honour with Manchester United back in 2007/08.
Messi won the award for four consecutive seasons between 2008 and 2012, one more than Ruud van Nistelrooy who was a three-time winner for Manchester United. Ronaldo and Messi have both scored 67 goals in the competition in total and trail all-time top scorer Raul Gonzalez by just four goals.
Assuming that they stay clear of injury and that their teams make normal progress, they will surely become the two leading scorers by the end of this campaign. It is a measure of their quality that they leave players such as Van Nistelrooy, Henry and Shevchenko trailing in their wake.
Ronaldo started last season with a hat-trick in Madrid’s 6-1 win at Galatasaray and scored nine goals in the group stage alone. Indeed, the Portugal International scored in his first eight appearances in last year?s tournament. Fittingly, it was Ronaldo who stepped up to convert the 120th-minute penalty to round off a 4-1 win in the final against great rivals Atletico.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick at Galatasaray was one of seven in last season’s competition. Messi, Kostas Mitroglou, Alvaro Negredo, Arturo Vidal and Neymar all bagged trebles in the group stages while Robin van Persie scoring a hat-trick in Manchester United’s round of 16 win over Olympiacos. Ibrahimovic scored four times for PSG in their group stage victory at Anderlecht.
The bookmakers cannot see beyond Ronaldo and Messi again this season. Ronaldo is generally the 5/2 favourite with the Argentinian priced at around 4-1. The main challengers this season are again likely to include Ibrahimovic and Costa, particularly with the latter having made such a fantastic start at his new club Chelsea. Messi?s team-mate Neymar is generously priced at 33/1 while Robert Lewandowski, Sergio Aguero, Thomas Muller and Luis Suarez are other names featured at the top of the market.
Real Madrid have made a stuttering start to their domestic season but will be expected to make a strong defence of the trophy. Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to get amongst the goals in Group B against Basel, Liverpool and Ludogorets. Barcelona line up against PSG, Ajax and Apoel Nicosia with Messi keen also shooting for the top scorer of all-time record. It promises to be a thrilling duel in the Champions League in 2014/15.