The first leg of all four Champions League quarter-finals is now over, meaning the race to be the competition’s top scorer is well and truly on.
Manchester City, Liverpool, Villarreal and Real Madrid have picked up victories, while Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Bayern Munich and Chelsea now face an uphill battle to secure their place in the semi-finals.
Although lifting the iconic trophy is a priority for the players and their teams, finishing with the most goals is an accolade any striker would be proud of.
Read on as we identify current leaders and assess who is best suited to receive the crown.
Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich (12 goals, three assists)
Robert Lewandowski failed to score in Bayern’s away game against Villarreal but enjoyed another impressive campaign in Europe’s premier club competition.
The Pole was the architect of the Bavarians’ round of 16 second-leg victory over FC Salzburg, scoring a first-half hat-trick to put Julian Nagelsmann’s men on course for a 7-1 win on the night , 8-2 on aggregate.
The remarkable performance puts the 33-year-old as the favorite to win the Champions League second top scorer gong.
An injury prevented the Bundesliga’s top scorer from facing Paris Saint-Germain in last season’s quarter-finals, which the German champions lost on away goals, so he and his team-mates will have to heart to regain the title they last won in 2020. .
If Nagelsmann’s side can continue to impose their domestic dominance until the knockout stage, their number 9 should be firmly among the goals.
Sebastien Haller, Ajax (11 goals, one assist)
Sebastien Haller’s debut Champions League campaign was memorable but ended when Ajax suffered a 1-0 home loss to Benfica in the round of 16 second leg.
After scoring 10 goals in six group stage matches, Haller netted his 11th of the campaign in a 2-2 draw at Lisbon.
The Ivory Coast international has become the fastest player in the history of the competition to score 10 or more goals.
The 27-year-old also became the second man – after Cristiano Ronaldo – to score in all six matches in a single group stage.
The former West Ham frontman will have many special memories of a record-breaking personal performance, but will unfortunately have to wait until next season to increase his goalscoring tally.
Karim Benzema (11 goals)
Real striker Karim Benzema is in excellent form in the Champions League Round of 16, scoring back-to-back hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were in serious danger of dropping out of this year’s competition at the hands of the French giants, before Benzema took center stage.
Trailing 2-0 on aggregate with less than half an hour of play, Los Blancos’ No.9 came alive, scoring a brilliant hat-trick in just 17 minutes to seal a remarkable victory.
The 34-year-old then followed up that incredible display with another hat-trick, this time at Stamford Bridge, to give the La Liga leaders a 3-1 lead after the first leg.
Benzema has never finished a Champions League season as top scorer, despite winning the trophy four times.
However, if Ancelotti’s men go all the way this time around, the striker would have a great chance of winning the prestigious award.
Mohamed Salah, Liverpool (eight goals)
Mohamed Salah was frustrated after Liverpool’s quarter-final win over Benfica but will be hoping for more chances to improve his record in the second leg.
The Reds emerged victorious with a 3-1 victory in Lisbon and now they will be betting to guarantee a place in the semi-finals.
The Egyptian ace took the lead in the Round of 16 win over Inter Milan, having also scored twice in a 3-2 win over Atlético in the group stage.
Jurgen Klopp’s men will again be looking to lift the trophy they last won in 2019 and will need Salah to be as instrumental now as he was during this season.
Jurgen Klopp’s men will have eyes on once again lifting the trophy they last claimed in 2019 and will need Salah to be as instrumental now as he was during that victorious season if they are to do so.
The 29-year-old will be aiming to better his best-ever tally of 10 in the competition to take the individual prize but with the form he is in this season, you would not bet against him doing just that.
Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig (seven goals)
Christopher Nkunku bowed out of the running following RB Leipzig’s group-stage elimination but his goalscoring exploits mean he is well worthy of a mention.
The French attacker managed seven goals in six games — made more impressive by the fact that he rarely operates as an out-and-out striker for the Bundesliga outfit.
Playing on the left, right or in attacking midfield, the 24-year-old is developing into one of Europe’s most exciting talents.