Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in race to be Champions League top scorer

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will go head-to-head once more in the race to be this season’s top scorer in the Champions League – although Luiz Adriano threatens to spoil the party.

Both Barcelona and Real Madrid booked their spots in the semi-finals this week with victories over Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid respectively.

The planet’s best footballers have scored eight times in Europe this season. But Shakhtar Donetsk’s Adriano, courted by Arsenal and Liverpool, has netted on nine occasions this term.

Adriano, who moved to Donetsk in 2007, scored five against BATE Borsiov in the group stages. His performance that night made history, with the 27-year-old becoming only the second player to score five times in a Champions League game. The other was Messi for Barcelona against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012.

He also scored the third quickest hat-trick in the competition’s history (12 minutes) as the Ukrainian side, knocked out by Bayern Munich in the round of 16, racked up the biggest-ever half-time lead (6-0) in Europe’s premier tournament.

Ronaldo and Messi however, remain in pole-position to top the scoring charts with Barcelona and Real Madrid both in the hat for the two-legged semi-finals to be played next month.

Of the teams still in the pot, Neymar and Luis Suarez of Barcelona, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and former Manchester United and City striker Carlos Tevez, now plying his trade for Juventus, each have six goals.

The draw for the semi finals will take place on Friday, April 24th.

Final Training Session ahead of Madrid derby decider

Real Madrid players returned to the training ground at the Valdebebas for the final training session ahead of the crucial Champions league round of 16 decider against city rivals Atletico Madrid.

A side with Injury crisis were looked fully motivated and with high morale. After missing out Key Players like Gareth Bale and Luka Modric for the Derby’s second leg real madrid’s midfield can be a weak zone.

In absence of  Magician Luka Modric, In form James Rodrriguez will hold the key spot in the game for the Los Blancos. Whereas Chicharito will start the game as Karim Benzema has been ruled out for the match.

All eyes will be on Real Madrid‘s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored against every opposition he had played in the Champions League this season.

Fortsätt läsa Final Training Session ahead of Madrid derby decider

Real’s Rodriguez may hold key amid injury crisis

With Real Madrid facing an injury crisis ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid attention will be on talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to lead them through but James Rodriguez may hold the key.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti will be without playmaker Luka Modric and forward Gareth Bale while striker Karim Benzema’s knee injury may be more serious than first thought and he will also miss the quarter-final, second leg.

As well as the injury absences, attacking fullback Marcelo is suspended for the decider at the Bernabeu with the tie standing at 0-0 from the first game.

Ancelotti must improvise by either playing two, rather than the usual trident, in attack as he has often done in the absence of Bale or by pushing Rodriguez forward on to the right wing to take the place of the Welshman.

Rodriguez has been in impressive form since his return from injury at the beginning of April with Real winning all four league games.

The Colombian stood out in a sluggish performance by Real in Saturday’s 3-1 La Liga win over Malaga when he scored a fine 25-metre goal, won a penalty and provided defensive cover in midfield.

Now, in the absence of Modric, who is set to be the player that Real will miss most against Atletico, it is Rodriguez who can provide similar passing and build-up play.

Ronaldo’s strike against Malaga brought up his 50th goal of the season but he struggled after Christmas without the support from midfield of Modric or Rodriguez.

The best player was James because he gave a lot of quality to the team,” Ancelotti told a news conference after the Malaga victory.

Atletico will try to take advantage of the absentees to get some revenge for their defeat in last season’s Champions League final and are led in attack by Antoine Griezmann who is in a rich vein of form.

He has scored important goals all season and is giving a lot to the team,” fellow forward Raul Garcia told reporters.

The Frenchman hit a double in Atletico’s 2-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

The final is in the past. It would have been nice to win but this is another match. The team is playing very well and we are in a positive mood,” added Garcia.

UEFA Records Messi and Ronaldo have not Broken Yet

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo seem to pass goalscoring landmarks every week, but there are plenty of UEFA Champions League records they have yet to break.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi‘s ongoing battle to be the top goalscorer in European football remains perhaps the greatest footballing drama of our age, but both need to raise their game considerably if they are to scoop the following European Champion Clubs‘ Cup and UEFA Europa League records.

Final goals
Most goals in European Cup finals: 7 – Alfrédo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás (both Real Madrid CF)
Goals in most European Cup finals: 5 – Alfrédo Di Stefano (Real Madrid, 1956, 1957, 1958. 1959, 1960)
Most goals in a single European Cup final: 4 – Ferenc Puskás (Real Madrid, 1960)
Most goals in a single UEFA Champions League final: 2 – Daniele Massaro (AC Milan, 1994), Karl-Heinz Riedle (Borussia Dortmund, 1997), Hernán Crespo (Milan, 2005), Filippo Inzaghi (Milan, 2007), Diego Milito (FC Internazionale Milano, 2010)

With two finals goals each – and only one in any single final (Messi in 2009 and 2011, Ronaldo in 2008 and 2014) – Ronaldo and Messi both have a way to go to emulate the all-time final star strikers. Two other players have also scored in two UEFA Champions League finals: Raúl González (Real Madrid, 2000, 2002) and Samuel Eto’o (FC Barcelona, 2006, 2009).

Goals in European Cup/UEFA Champions League stages
Most UEFA Champions League group stage goals: Raúl González (53)
Most European Cup/UEFA Champions League quarter-final goals: Alfrédo Di Stéfano (14)
Most European Cup/UEFA Champions League semi-final goals: Alfrédo Di Stéfano (11)

Raúl‘s twin records as the leading UEFA Champions League and UEFA club competition goalscorer have fallen to Ronaldo (who holds both) and Messi (who shares the former only), but the ex-Madrid ace retains his status as the all-time top marksman in the UEFA Champions League group stage; Messi on 44 and Ronaldo on 38 may surpass that mark yet.

Di Stéfano remains king in terms of quarter-final and semi-final goals, though his throne appears increasingly vulnerable. Ronaldo has registered 12 in the quarters and eight in the semis; Messi has notched 10 and two respectively at those stages.

Success with different sides
Final wins with the most teams in the UEFA Champions League: 3 – Clarence Seedorf (AFC Ajax 1995, Real Madrid 1998, Milan 2003, 2007)
Highest number of teams scored for in the UEFA Champions League: 6 – Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Internazionale, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain)

Cristiano Ronaldo is unique in having scored in UEFA Champions League finals for two different winning sides – Manchester United FC in 2008 and Madrid in 2014. The luckless Velibor Vasović is the only other player to net in European Cup finals for two clubs, as a loser with FK Partizan in 1966 and Ajax in 1969. Ronaldo will require a transfer if he is to match Clarence Seedorf’s unique achievement of winning the competition with three separate teams.

Oldest goalscorer
UEFA Champions League final: Paolo Maldini (36 years 333 days) Milan v Liverpool FC (25/05/2005)
UEFA Champions League, group stage to final: Francesco Totti (38 years 59 days)
PFC CSKA Moskva v AS Roma (25/11/2014)
European Cup: Manfred Burgsmüller (38 years 293 days)
SV Werder Bremen v SC Dynamo Berlin (11/10/1988)

To overtake the UEFA Champions League oldest scorer mark, Ronaldo will need to register in the competition, group stage to final, after 1 April 2023, and Messi after 22 August 2025. To become the European Cup’s all-time oldest scorer, Ronaldo will have to hit the target after 22 November 2023, and Messi after 13 April 2026.

Fastest goals
Fastest UEFA Champions League goal: Roy Makaay (10.12 seconds)
FC Bayern München v Real Madrid (07/03/2007)
Fastest UEFA Champions League final goal: Paolo Maldini (53 seconds) Milan v Liverpool (25/05/2005)

Hat-tricks
Fastest UEFA Champions League hat-trick: Bafétimbi Gomis (8 mins)
GNK Dinamo Zagreb v Olympique Lyonnais, 07/12/2011
Hat-tricks in consecutive UEFA Champions League games: Luiz Adriano (2)
FC BATE Borisov v FC Shakhtar Donetsk (21/10/14) & FC Shakhtar Donetsk v FC BATE Borisov (05/11/14)

Long-distance records
Goals in most successive UEFA Champions League seasons: Raúl González (14)
Goals in most UEFA Champions League seasons: Ryan Giggs (16)

Sporting Clube de Portugal did not get through qualifying in Ronaldo’s only attempt with the club, and the forward then failed to net in his first two UEFA Champions League seasons with United. However, he has registered in the last nine campaigns – and nine in all – meaning he must keep playing and scoring for five more seasons to catch Raúl. To replicate Giggs’s total he may – like the Welshman – need to play on until he is over 40.

There were no false starts for Messi, yet he has scored in only ten UEFA Champions League campaigns and will be well into his 30s before he can trouble Raúl or Giggs in this respect.

Single-season total
Most goals in a single European season: Radamel Falcao (18), FC Porto 2010/11

Falcao’s glorious exploits in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League set a mark that Messi and Ronaldo have been unable to emulate. The Colombian’s haul included one goal in qualifying and 17 in the competition proper. Messi’s best year came in 2011/12 when he ended the European season with 14 strikes, while Ronaldo set a new European Cup/UEFA Champions League record with 17 in 2013/14. Both men have notched eight this term, meaning they will have to make it to the final and score at a rate of over two a game if they are to outgun Falcao.

Goalscoring consistency
Goals in most consecutive appearances: Ruud van Nistelrooy (9), Manchester United, 2002/03
Best goals per game average in European Cup/UEFA Champions League: 0.97 – Gerd Müller (Bayern)
Best goals per game average in UEFA club competition*: 0.90 – Radamel Falcao (Porto, Club Atlético de Madrid)

Ruud van Nistelrooy did not figure in all United’s games in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League but managed to score in nine straight appearances in that campaign – ten if you include his goal in qualifying. Ronaldo has come the closest to bettering that mark, with strikes in eight successive 2013/14 outings.

However, when it comes to goals per match, Ronaldo cannot compete with the all-time record holders. His UEFA Champions League record stands at 0.66 a game – 76 goals in 115 games – and it is 0.66 in all UEFA club competitions too – 78 in 118. Messi has registered at (0.80 in the UEFA Champions League – 75 goals in 94 games; 0.78 in all UEFA competitions – 76 in 97). If Falcao’s awesome total may yet come down when he returns to European action, Gerd Müller‘s European Cup ratio still seems unbeatable.

UEFA Team of the Year 2014: Ronaldo received record most votes

UEFA have revealed their 2014 Team of the Year with Cristiano Ronaldo making a record ninth appearance in the annual poll.

Ronaldo received the most votes 623,046  in a team that was dominated by the Bundesliga after five Bayern Munich players were selected. Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and German World Champion midfielder Toni Kroos were the two other Madrid player among the UEFA’s 2014 Best XI. Bayern Munich who also have four current players in the team; goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, captain Philipp Lahm, left back David Alaba and winger Arjen Robben.

A record number of votes were cast in the poll (8.5 million compared to 2013’s 6.3 million), with UEFA.com staff writers picked the final XI from a shortlist of 40 players.

La Liga were the most represented league in terms of players, while the only Premier League player to have made it was Angel di Maria, whose joined Manchester United in the summer.

There were no representatives from Serie A while the sole player from Ligue 1 was PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with least number of votes who got 214,674.

Ronaldo, Messi and Neuer are the three men on the short list for the Ballon d’Or award conducted by the world governing body FIFA. The winner is announced on Monday.

Kroos, meanwhile, was also picked as Germany Player of the Year in another poll conducted in Germany by the national team fan club, the German football federation DFB said.

FC Basel charged for fans on pitch near Ronaldo

European football’s governing body UEFA has charged FC Basel after fans ran onto the pitch and approached Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo during a Champions League match.

Five spectators encroached on the pitch from different sections of the St Jakob Park stadium in the 89th minute of Real’s 1-0 win on Wednesday.

Play was delayed for about two minutes as three of the spectators were chased and caught by security staff. The other two spectators appeared to be filming the arrest of a fan wearing a Real shirt.

UEFA says its disciplinary panel will judge the case on December 11.

Basel was sanctioned by UEFA twice last season for incidents that disrupted Champions League and Europa League matches.

In the first, Greenpeace activists abseiled from the stadium roof to protest competition sponsor Gazprom. They also faced charges for fan disorder, namely the setting-off and throwing of objects.

Cristiano Ronaldo levels Raul’s Champions League Goal record

Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo moved level with former Madrid striker Raul as he scored his 71st Champions League goal during Real Madrid’s record-equalling 15th consecutive win as they beat FC Basel 1-0 in Switzerland on Wednesday.

The Portuguese superstar converted a Karim Benzema cutback 10 minutes before half-time at the St Jakob-Park as the reigning European champions, who had already qualified for the last 16, secured first place in Group B with a fifth win in five games.

Ronaldo‘s goal allowed him to move level with Raul as the tournament’s second-top scorer of all time, three behind Lionel Messi, who broke the record with a hattrick for Barcelona against APOEL on Tuesday, Sport24 reported.

Ronaldo‘s goal secured their 15th consecutive victory in all competitions, a sequence that began with a 5-1 defeat of Basel at the Santiago Bernabeu in September.

Carlo Ancelotti‘s men have therefore equalled the record that was set by Miguel Munoz’s team in 1960-61 and then matched three seasons ago under Jose Mourinho.

Meanwhile, Basel, who had won their previous two home games, fought admirably with 17-year-old Cameroonian forward Breel Embolo proving a real handful, and despite the defeat they know that a draw with Liverpool at Anfield in a fortnight would take them through to the knockout stage, the report added.
Fortsätt läsa Cristiano Ronaldo levels Raul’s Champions League Goal record

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid. Ronaldo gets his 70th Champions League goal

Real Madrid earned their first-ever win over Liverpool with a wondrous Cristiano Ronaldo goal spearheading a 3-0 Champions League victory at Anfield on Wednesday which appeared as classy as it was dominant.

Ronaldo‘s glorious 23rd minute strike and a double from Karim Benzema sealed the champions’ triumph before halftime, leaving Real‘s Portuguese icon insisting his side were in the mood to become the first team in the Champions League era to successfully defend the title.

”We know it’ll be very tough but we know it’s possible if we play like that,” said Ronaldo, after scoring his 70th Champions League goal, which puts him within one of equalling Raul‘s all-time record.

He had a chance to share the mark but was thwarted by a point blank second half save from Simon Mignolet.

”I’m not worried about that (Raul’s record) I know I’m going to beat his record today or another game. Me and Messi (69 goals) are very close,” said Ronaldo.

The roar of one of Europe’s most vociferous crowds, which contributed to a bright start for the hosts as they hoped to see Liverpool improve on their three-game, 100 percent record over Real in European competition, was muted once Ronaldo scored the most brilliant of openers.

There looked to be little cause for alarm as Ronaldo flitted around in midfield and passed to James Rodriguez, who was surrounded by red shirts. Yet a delightful, dinked pass somehow picked out Ronaldo again and his first-time finish, taken early almost on the half-volley, was exquisite.

It proved the signal for Real to take over and Liverpool‘s suspect defence to lose concentration under pressure.

Liverpool should have cleared their lines long before Benzema‘s precise, looping header from Toni Kroos‘s cross effectively put the game beyond their reach.

The third was a scrappy, messy affair, with Liverpool again guilty of missing a couple of opportunities to clear a corner before the ball fell obligingly for Benzema to nudge home his second.

After Philippe Coutinho almost pulled one back with a searing shot which hit the post, Liverpool were resigned to having to claw back a three-goal deficit in a Champions League match for the first time since they did just that against AC Milan in the 2005 Istanbul final.

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, in charge of the Milan side which threw away that lead, was not about to let history repeat itself.

”No I forgot this,” he said, when asked about that Istanbul night. ”I told the players that in football anything can happen. I know really well these (Liverpool) supporters. I told my players to stay focussed for the second half.”

Madrid never looked threatened despite Liverpool seeming a little livelier, thanks in part to the tactical substitution of Mario Balotelli, who was replaced at halftime by Adam Lallana.

Ancelotti, who felt it was the best Madrid had played all season, even had the luxury of being able to take off Ronaldo 15 minutes from the end with a view to the weekend’s Clasico against Barcelona and his champion player was thrilled to be given a resounding reception from the Kop.

”It was special,” said Ronaldo, who felt that with Madrid now having a maximum nine points from their three games, qualification was ”75 percent” assured.

Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager who now faces a difficult qualification route with his side having three points alongside Ludogorets and Basel, had no complaints about being beaten by a team of such quality.

”You can see Real’s quality. Speed, technique; you can see why they are champions. The second and third goals are from set-pieces again. It’s an issue for us and we have to be better than that.”

Match Photos: Liverpool vs Real Madrid – Champions League [HQ]

Fortsätt läsa Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid. Ronaldo gets his 70th Champions League goal

Rodgers: ‘Ronaldo’ a Real threat

Brendan Rodgers admits the absence of Gareth Bale will mean little to Liverpool as they still must find a way to stop Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Merseysiders are preparing for Wednesday night’s Champions League clash with the Spanish giants at Anfield.

Bale will be missing from the Madrid side with a muscle injury, but Isco, his likely replacement, is another potent attacking threat for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Ronaldo remains their main driving force, scoring 15 times in his last seven La Liga outings, and Rodgers believes the Portugal international has emerged as the complete player in recent years.

”Gareth Bale is a world-class player with fantastic speed and fantastic talent, but with the squad Real Madrid have they can bring in players like Isco so I don’t think really it’s an advantage if he doesn’t play,” said the Reds boss.

It’s still going to be a very difficult game for us, they have a squad full of top-class players.

”Of course there is a special talent in Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world at the moment, and his evolution from being a soloist who scores goals to a goalscorer is there to see and his record is incredible.

”But we have to make a plan for our team first to ensure we cause Real Madrid problems and then prepare yourself for the quality players they have, but that will be as a team.”

Liverpool have lacked attacking fluency this season, with main striker Mario Balotelli appearing short on confidence and composure in Sunday’s 3-2 win at QPR.

But Rodgers has kept faith with the Italian and hopes he can play a decisive role against Madrid.

”He’s been fine, of course he was disappointed after the weekend – he’s a goalscorer so he wants to score goals,” added Rodgers.

”But I highlighted to him he was in the positions to miss, he was arriving in the areas, so I think it’s only a matter of time before he gets his goals.

”He’s a good kid, he’s working hard and he has scored goals in big games and I’m sure he will go into the game tomorrow night – if selected – focused on getting off the mark again, and as long as he is in there getting into the positions I’m sure he can score.”

Raheem Sterling responded to criticism about his fitness with a fine individual display against his former club at the weekend.

Rodgers fully expects the 19-year-old to be ready for another crucial fixture, just three days later.

”I think he’s shown over the last couple of years he has that quality and ability to do that,” he said. ”Probably a lot more was made about what happened when he was away with England.

”It was no surprise to me [against QPR], he was a real catalyst for us – wonderful speed, technique and hard work so I’ve no doubt he can arrive into the game and produce the same quality.”

Ludogorets 1-2 Real Madrid: Ronaldo and Benzema rescue Champions League holders

Real Madrid needed a 77th-minute goal from substitute Karim Benzema for a 2-1 comeback win at Champions League newcomer Ludogorets on Wednesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo missed one penalty before making amends with a second spot kick.

Unfazed by the star-studded visitors in its first home game in Europe‘s top-tier competition, Ludogorets surprised the defending champions by taking the lead in the sixth minute.

Ronaldo squandered his first chance to level when his penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov in the 10th. But he didn’t miss a second time from the spot in the 24th.

With Ludogorets holding its own, Benzema went on in the 67th and was soon broke the deadlock when he volleyed in Marcelo‘s cross to secure Madrid‘s second win of the tournament.

Ronaldo‘s goal took his total in the Champions League to 69, giving him one more than Barcelona’s Lionel Messi as the two stars race to reach Raul Gonzalez‘s tournament mark of 71.

While Madrid held on for the tougher-than-expected win, Liverpool was beaten 1-0 at Basel in the other Group B match.

Liverpool’s loss left Madrid alone in first place of the group with six points. Basel and Liverpool have three points, while Ludogorets was left with zero despite two strong showings against Madrid and Liverpool.

Fortsätt läsa Ludogorets 1-2 Real Madrid: Ronaldo and Benzema rescue Champions League holders