UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
When was the last season neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo played in the UEFA Champions League?
The former Barcelona and Real Madrid stars have won the tournament nine times between them but will likely never play in it again.
For what feels like an eternity, Barcelona icon Lionel Messi and Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo have been synonymous with the UEFA Champions League, which they have won on nine occasions between them. However, the 2023-24 edition marks the first time in two decades that neither of the duo will take part in the competition, with the Argentine starring in MLS with Inter Miami and the Portuguese still amongst the goals for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia.
When did Lionel Messi make his Champions League debut for Barcelona?
Messi enjoyed 17 trophy-laden seasons in the Barça first team, with four Champions League victories amongst his finest achievements during his spell in Catalonia. The Argentina captain made his debut in the competition in the 2004-05 season in a group stage game away to Shakhtar Donetsk in December 2004, which ended in a 2-0 defeat.
The LaLiga giants would controversially lose to José Mourinho’s Chelsea in the round of 16 that season but had better luck 12 months later, becoming European champions for the first time since 1992 by defeating Arsenal in the 2006 final in Paris. Messi missed the final through injury but picked up a medal as a member of the Champions League roster, although he would go on to play much more significant roles in further victories in 2009, 2011 and 2015, scoring in two separate finals against Manchester United.
How many Champions League goals did Messi score?
Messi scored a total of 129 goals in 163 games in the Champions League, putting him third on the list of all-time appearance makers and the second highest scorer.
When did Cristiano Ronaldo make his UCL debut?
Ronaldo’s debut in the competition is somewhat up for debate, depending on how you view qualifiers. As a 17-year-old, the attacker came off the bench for Sporting against Inter in Champions League qualifying in August 2002, although the Portuguese side ultimately failed to progress to the 2002-03 group stages.
He first appearance in the competition proper came a little over a year later for Manchester United, who he joined in the summer of 2003. Like Messi, his debut ended in defeat, with the Red Devils losing 2-1 away to German side Stuttgart in October 2003.
How many Champions League goals did Ronaldo score?
No player has made more Champions League appearances than Ronaldo (183) or scored more goals (140). Incredibly, the Portugal captain averaged more than a goal per game in the competition for Real Madrid (105 in 101 matches), with whom he won the tournament four times (2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018). The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had already lifted the trophy in 2008 with United, who were beaten by a Messi-inspired Barcelona in the 2009 final.
For the first time since 2003-04 (or 2002-03 if you count qualification), neither one of the two best players of the century will feature in the UEFA Champions League. The end of an era.