The UEFA Champions League (UCL), previously known as the European Cup before its rebrand in 1992, is one of the most eagerly anticipated footballing competitions each year, bringing together some of the sport’s finest talent from all over the world. But which country’s players are best at putting the ball in the back of the net?
Keen to find out, we conducted in-depth analysis of UEFA Champions League goal scorers between the seasons 1992-93 and 2019-20, to calculate the league’s top goal scoring countries as well as identifying which country’s nationals score the most goals.
The top 10 goal scoring countries in Champions League history
Our analysis can reveal that players from Brazil scored the highest number of goals for their respective teams between 1992 and 2020, scoring a total of 922 goals out of a total of 8,725. This means that 11% of all goals were scored by 197 Brazilian natives who have played in the Champions League between 1992 and 2020, including Neymar, Coutinho, and Rivaldo, to name a few.
Brazilians scored the most goals during the 2017-18 season, whereby 57 goals were put in the back of the net out of a total of 383 goals altogether. Of these goals, 10 were scored by Roberto Firmino for English club Liverpool, and six were scored by PSG’s Neymar.
Second and third go to neighbouring countries Spain and France, with 722 and 697 goals, respectively – a difference of just 25. According to our analysis, this means that 8% of all goals were scored by Spanish and French natives in the competition between 1992 and 2020.
Spain scored the most goals during the 1999-2000 season, after Spaniards put away 51 goals out of a total of 434. Of these goals, 10 were scored by Raúl and six were scored by Fernando Morientes for Real Madrid, helping the team to be crowned champions. Spain’s Luis Enrique also scored six goals during the season for Barcelona too.
France nationals scored the most goals in the 2001-02 season, scoring 50 goals out of the 385 goals scored by all Champions League players in the competition. Of these goals, eight were scored by French national David Trezeguet for his team Juventus, and seven were scored by Thierry Henry for Arsenal.
Which player scores the most goals per country?
Of the Champions League 10 top goal scoring countries, which players scored the most goals for each country? Our analysis discovered the following players to come out on top:
The top 20 goal scorers in Champions League history
According to our research, there have been 2,372 goal scorers in the Champions League between 1992 and 2020, but which players scored the most goals during this period?
Perhaps unsurprisingly to some, Portugal’s Ronaldo comes out on top scoring an impressive 130 goals in the Champions League between 1992 and 2020. Following closely behind in second is Ronaldo’s rival, Lionel Messi, who has scored 15 less goals in the Champions League over the same period. Over the years there has been much debate over who is better, Messi or Ronaldo. However, our research suggests that Ronaldo pips Messi when comparing goal scoring success in the UCL.
France’s Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry both feature among the top 10 goal scorers in the Champions League between 1992 and 2020. The players scored 65 and 50 goals respectively which, when combined, comes to a total of 115 – this equates to 16% of all goals scored by French nationals (697).
Despite coming in sixth place overall with 487 goals between all players, four players from The Netherlands feature in the top 20 – more than any other country. Ruud van Nistelrooy scored 56 goals over the 28-year period studied, followed by Arjen Robben with 31, and Roy Makaay and Patrick Kluivert with 29 each.
Which season has produced the most goals in Champions League history?
Our analysis found that the 2000-2001 season, won by Bayern Munich for the fourth time, resulted in a whopping 440 goals. Spain’s Raúl scored the most goals in this season, securing seven in total.
In second and scoring just seven goals less is the 1999-2000 season, whereby Spanish team, Real Madrid won their eighth title. Of the 434 goals scored, 10 goals each were scored by the Spaniard Raúl and Brazilian nationals Rivaldo and Jardel.
Following closely behind in third is the 2002-03 season, whereby players scored a total of 420 goals – 12 of these were scored by Dutch national Ruud van Nistelrooy. In this season, the competition was won by Italian side Milan, who beat fellow Italian team Juventus on penalties in the Cup’s first ever all-Italian final.
Contrastingly, of all seasons studied, the 1994-95 season scored the least goals of all. Of all 61 matches played in the competition, just 137 goals were scored in total – 303 less goals than the 2000-01 season in first place. Other low-goal scoring seasons scoring less than 200 goals are as follows:
• 1996-97: 158 goals
• 1995-96: 159 goals
• 1992-93: 195 goals
Which continent has the most goal scorers?
Our research can reveal that European players have scored the most goals between 1992 and 2020, scoring a whopping 6,198 goals out of a total of 8,725. To put that into perspective, seven in 10 goals (71%) scored in the Champions League were by European nationals.
South American players follow behind scoring 1,790 goals over the 28-year period we studied, which means that roughly every two in 10 goals are scored by players born in this continent (21%).
1. From the 1992-1993 season up until, and including, the 2019-2020 season, Compare.bet pulled the following player data from the Champions League from worldfootball.net:
– Player name
– Number of goals scored
– Player nationality.
2. Years before 1992 were excluded due to the cup’s rebranding from the European Cup to the Champions League.
3. The current 2020-2021 season has been excluded from our research as it is not yet complete.