Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski: Who has the best record in finals?

  • Kat Lucas

Lionel Messi delivered the goods in style to win his 35th trophy with Barcelona on Saturday night. 

Athletic Bilbao were the victims of a 4-0 slaughter, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner scoring twice - including a wonder goal from a move that began in his own half.

The Copa del Rey puts a shine on what has largely been a difficult season at Camp Nou. 

It was fitting - and perhaps inevitable - that it would be Messi who shone in the final, given that it could be his last in a Barcelona shirt. 

The Argentine might not be the ultimate clutch player - how many times has Cristiano Ronaldo come to the rescue when his team were behind or in the last minutes? - but he does have a habit of banging in goals in showpieces. 

In the 34 finals he's played, he's now scored 31 goals - though bear in mind, that doesn't mean 34 separate finals. It's 34 matches, including both legs of the super cups. 

Messi scored in both the 2009 and the 2011 Champions League finals and he's also scored nine goals in 10 Copa del Rey finals, more than any other player in the tournament's history. 

So are we premature in dubbing him the supreme big-game player in world football? Let's take a look at some of his rivals and how they've got on in finals of their own. 

Robert Lewandowski

Big-game bottler? It's been said. Lewandowski's incredible goalscoring knack has often deserted him in finals. The Polish international has played in 15 of them and scored seven goals - but crucially, he was relatively quiet in the two Champions League finals he's featured in. He has scored in the 2017 and 2018 DFL-Supercup, and five times in the DFB-Pokal final. 

Goals in finals: 7 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Now this is where the Messi comparisons get interesting. Ronaldo, to date, has played in 30 finals, scoring 19 goals and registering two assists. Well, well, well. 

(Ronaldo fans will no doubt point out that he's also won a greater percentage of finals, even if he's scored fewer goals in them). 

Goals in finals: 19 


Whatever his critics say about the quality of French football, Neymar has played in 17 finals throughout his career, scoring eight goals. Two came for Santos back in Brazil, but he's also netted in finals of the Trophée des Champions, Copa del rey, Coupe de France and of course the Champions League. 

Goals in finals: 8 

Kylian Mbappe 

It's incredible that Mbappe is even in such illustrious company at the age of 22, but the Frenchman has already taken part in 10 career finals. The pinnacle was, of course, scoring in a World Cup final in 2018. His only other goal in a final so far came in the 2019 Trophée des Champions. 

Goals in finals: 2

Harry Kane 

Kane has only played in two finals so far, in the 2015 League Cup and the 2019 Champions League. The Tottenham striker did not score in either, losing both 2-0. 

Goals in finals: 0

Sergio Aguero

Manchester City's record goalscorer has won plenty of trophies at the Etihad, but has only scored four goals in his 15 finals. Like Messi, he's lost three international finals too.

Goals in finals: 4 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

Now 39, the veteran Swede is arguably the greatest player not to have won the Champions League. He's had his fair share of big occasions to enjoy, though, featuring in 20 finals and reaping an impressive 12 goals from them. 

Goals in finals: 12 

Luis Suarez

Suarez has played in 12 finals, the vast majority of them with Barcelona. He's scored nine goals in total, including a brace in the 2009–10 KNVB Cup for Ajax. He also earned his stripes in the 2011 Copa America final with Uruguay, and for Barcelona in Club World Cups, Super Cups, and Copa del Rey and Champions League finals. 

Goals in finals: 9 

Messi's record of 31 shouldn't need reiterating to make it any more impressive, but when you pit him against the great and the good of his contemporaries, his numbers are even more eye-watering. 

The undisputed GOAT?

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