Ronaldo, Messi, Falcao: The 13 most prolific seasons in a European competition

At the start of the 2013/14 season, Real Madrid hadn’t laid hands on the Champions League trophy for over a decade.

Los Blancos triumphed for the ninth time in 2001/02 thanks to Zinedine Zidane‘s iconic volley in the final at Hampden Park against Bayer Leverkusen.

But it took them another 12 years to finally achieve ‘La Decima’ and required an extraordinary individual campaign from Cristiano Ronaldo to bring ol’ Big Ears back to the Spanish capital.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored 17 goals in his 11 appearances during the 2013/14 Champions League season, including a penalty in the 4-1 final victory over Atletico Madrid.

No player throughout the course of footballing history has scored more goals in a single European Cup or Champions League campaign.

But what about the rest of the continent’s competitions such as the Europa League, has a player surpassed Ronaldo’s total in one of them?

Yes, yes they have. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) have named the 13 most prolific ever seasons in a European competition (including qualifying rounds), with Ronaldo’s 2013/14 heroics sitting in 2nd place.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal for Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid
LISBON, PORTUGAL – MAY 24: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates with Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid after scoring their fourth goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid at Estadio da Luz on May 24, 2014 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Karim Benzema is the newest addition to the list after he guided Real Madrid to Champions League glory in 2021/22.

The 13 most prolific ever seasons in a European competition

=8. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) | Europa League, 2019/20 | 14 goals

=8. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) | Champions League, 2011/12 | 14 goals

=8. John Wark (Ipswich Town) | UEFA Cup, 1980/81 | 14 goals

=8. Ruud Geels (Ajax) | UEFA Cup, 1975/76 | 14 goals

=8. Lothar Emmerich (Borussia Dortmund) | Cup Winners’ Cup, 1965/66 | 14 goals

=8. Jose Altafini (AC Milan) | European Cup, 1962/63 | 14 goals

=4. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) | Champions League, 2021/22 | 15 goals

=4. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) | Champions League, 2019/20 | 15 goals

=4. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) | Champions League, 2017/18 | 15 goals

=4. Jurgen Klinsmann (Bayern Munich) | UEFA Cup, 1995/96 | 15 goals

3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) | Champions League, 2016/15 | 16 goals

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) | Champions League, 2013/14 | 17 goals

  1. Radamel Falcao (FC Porto) | Europa League, 2010/11 | 18 goals
Radamel Falcao celebrates his goal for FC Porto vs Braga
DUBLIN, IRELAND – MAY 18: Radamel Falcao Garcia of FC Porto celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Europa League Final between FC Porto and SC Braga at Dublin Arena on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Falcao in the 2010/11 Europa League really was something else. The Colombian scored two hat-tricks and recoded one four-goal haul, which came in the semi-final second leg against Villarreal.

Unreal stuff from Radamel.

While Ronaldo doesn’t take top spot, he is the only player to feature in the top 13 more than once and occupies two of the places in the top three.

They don’t call him ‘Mr Champions League’ for nothing…

Champions League quiz: 20 questions on the all-time records

1 of 20

Which team holds the record for longest unbeaten run in the UCL of 25 games?

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