With Burak Yilmaz suspended and Galatasaray on the way out, the race to top the competition’s scoring charts appears to be between the two superstars
By Chris Myson
The last time a player other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi picked up the Champions League Golden Boot was back in 2006-07 when Kaka, then of AC Milan, took the honours.
The suspension to Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz for the quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid and the perilous position the Turks find themselves in at 3-0 behind in the tie, means that streak of success for football’s big two now looks highly unlikely to end.
Burak has been a strong challenger to Ronaldo and Messi, with his eight goals – including strikes in both legs of the last-16 victory over Schalke and a winning goal against Manchester United – raising hopes of a surprise winner in this year’s Golden Boot.
But adding to his tally now looks to be impossible, meaning Ronaldo and Messi, the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars who are so often battling it out for individual honours, are the final two realistic candidates.
It is Ronaldo who currently has the upper hand in the standings, having scored nine goals to Messi’s eight, with a maximum of four more potential matches to play.
The Santiago Bernabeu star has been on fire in Europe’s elite club competition this year. He started his campaign with a dramatic stoppage-time winner against Manchester City in the group stages and went on to score in both legs against former club United and in the first -leg against Galatasaray last week.
Messi, though, has a better strike-rate than Ronaldo in this season’s competition, according to Uefa’s official statistics. While the Argentine may be behind on eight goals to his rival’s nine, he averages a goal every 88.5 minutes to the Portuguese’s one strike every 90 minutes.
Messi is looking for a remarkable fifth Champions League Golden Boot in a row and has been making his usual devastating mark in the knockout stages. His double in the 4-0 second leg thrashing of AC Milan in the round-of-16 was invaluable in Barca’s comeback in that tie.
He netted in the first -half of the quarter-final first-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain too, before being forced off with a hamstring injury and was also the man on target when the Catalans suffered a shock defeat to Celtic back in the group stages.
Behind Ronaldo and Messi’s battle and the suspended Burak, there is a big gap to the chasing pack in the race for this season’s Golden Boot, with the closest challengers on just five goals.
Ezequiel Lavezzi was influential in PSG getting past Valencia to reach the last eight and he has the best strike-rate of those left with an outside chance of scooping the goal-scoring honours, with his five efforts coming at a goal every 98.2 minutes – not too far behind the leaders.
Thomas Muller, a scorer for Bayern Munich in last season’s final against Chelsea, also sits on five goals having netted against Juventus in the first -leg of the quarter-final.
Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund are enjoying a strong competition and Robert Lewandowski also sits on five, despite having drawn a blank in his side’s goalless draw against Malaga last week.
Three Brazilians – Chelsea star Oscar, Valencia forward Jonas and Braga’s Alan – are also on five goals but can no longer add to their tallies after their sides’ exit from the competition.
There are just two active players left on four goals – Juve’s Fabio Quagliarella and Ronaldo’s team-mate Karim Benzema – but it is very hard to see such a significant gap being made up in the final weeks of the Champions League.
So we are left with another battle between Ronaldo and Messi to secure the Golden Boot honours, an intriguing sub-plot to Real Madrid and Barcelona’s pursuit of the main trophy itself.
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