Live graphic shows the Champions League's leading goal-scorers since 2003

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Ladies and gentlemen, the Champions League is back.

While the 2019-20 season has long since begun, you get the feeling that no true footballing campaign has been christened until that iconic UEFA theme comes rippling out the speakers.

For all the brilliance of the Premier League and England's cup competitions, there's just something incomparably iconic about the jewel in European football's crown.

Anyhow, eulogising over, and there are plenty of blockbuster games to mark its return with Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid this week.

And that's not to mention Liverpool vs Napoli, Chelsea vs Valencia and plenty more impressive curtain-raisers.

The Champions League is back

In other words, we expect there to be plenty of goals over the next few days and nobody would be surprised if Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi had something to do with them.

It's no secret that, while the Ronaldo vs Messi debate is almost unanswerable on the whole, that the current Juventus striker has the upper-hand in the Champions League.

His status as the competition's all-time top goalscorer, as well as having won the trophy on five occasions, essentially makes him the uncrowned king of Europe.

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Europe's leading strikers since 2003

However, we dare remind everybody that there was a time before Ronaldo and Messi, a time where the greatest goal-scorer in the Champions League was neither a 'Cristiano' nor 'Lionel.'

The likes of Raul, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Didier Drogba have all thrust their names into the conversation over the course of the last two decades.

And in the spirit of tracking the competition's evolution over time, BT Sport have cobbled together a fascinating live graphic to illustrate the all-time leading scorers between 2003 and 2019.

But don't just take our word for it, check out the full video down below:

Now that's a lot of history condensed into just 60 seconds.

The aforementioned Raul, who won the competition three times with Real Madrid, leads the way when the animation begins and holds his number one status until 2014.

Over the course of that decade, players like Thierry Henry, Andriy Shevchenko and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all failed in their quest to hunt down the Spaniard.

And just when it looked as though Messi would be the man to usurp the Real legend, it was one of Los Blancos' own in Ronaldo who eventually freshened up the throne.

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From then on, the battle at the top has been incredibly tense with Messi drawing once and coming within one goal shortly after, only to find himself 14 strikes behind now.

But if the graphic proves nothing else, it's that Messi and Ronaldo are in a Champions League of their own.

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