UEFA EURO 2016: Top Scorer Market
While trying to help their teams claim glory this summer Europe’s leading strikers will be looking to show who the best marksman is. Last time around Fernando Torres took the official honours, after a six-way tie on goals scored and then a two-way tie on goals plus assists, as he’d played fewer minutes. Hopefully this time things will be easier to figure out but you should pay close attention to whether you are looking at a market for the Golden Boot winner or simply the more common Top Scorer.
Key Stats (since 1996 when the championships increased to 16 teams)
- Since 1996 two of the five Championships have had a tie for the top scorer, including six players finishing level in 2012 (11 top or joint-top scorers in this time)
- The top scorer netted five times in 1996, 2000 and 2004 but David Villa was top with four goals in 2008 and no one scored more than three times four years ago
- Eight of the 11 top scorers played for teams that at least reached the semi-finals
- 10/11 top scorers found the net at least twice in the group stages with seven scoring three or more times
Leading Contenders (Nation, Odds)
Thomas Muller (Germany, 10) has a very respectable strike rate at international level with 31 goals from 70 caps and that improves to 26 in 47 competitive games. He scored a hat-trick in Germany’s opening game at the last World Cup when playing as a centre forward. He finished that tournament as the second highest scorer and was also the top scorer in the 2010 World Cup. However, he was shifted to the right wing for the knockouts in 2014 and Jogi Loew’s fluid tactics could see a fluid front four here with no out and out striker. Muller scored a personal best total of more than 30 goals for Bayern this season but was less prolific in the second half of the season compared to the first.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, 10) has scored more than 50 goals for Real Madrid this season – the sixth campaign in a row he’s achieved this. He’s also reached double figures in the Champions League for a fifth year in a row and he now plays increasingly through the middle for Portugal. He’s sure to be in charge of Portugal’s penalties and free-kicks and they’ve been handed an easy group which should give Ronaldo some chances to add to his many incredible scoring records.
Antoine Griezmann (France, 12.5) has had the best season of his career to lead Atletico Madrid to the Champions League Final as well as another impressive title challenge. He’s not the focal point of France’s attack and has scored just four goals in his last 22 international appearances but the easiest route of all teams to the semi-finals should ensure he gets plenty of chances.
Robert Lewandowski (Poland, 19) finished as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 30 goals in 32 appearances and over 40 goals in all competitions. He was also the top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying with 13 strikes. Six of those did come against Gibraltar though and with group games against Germany and a very defensive Ukraine side it’ll be much harder here. However, Poland are a good attacking side and he could fill his boots against Northern Ireland, while we expect them to progress to the knockouts and have at least one extra game. That match against Northern Ireland is their opener though, and those games tend to be tighter than later in the group stage, but Poland certainly have every chance of a good run in this tournament.
Harry Kane (England, 17) was elevated into the top bracket of strikers in Europe after a season that saw him win the Premier League’s Golden Boot and take his tally in the past two campaigns to 59 goals in all competitions for his club. Furthermore, goals in England’s two September internationals saw him raised to a first choice status in Roy Hodgson’s side. England look to have a good draw but while the other teams in their group aren’t particularly strong they are defensive. That might limit Kane’s scoring chances but if England do well then the Spurs striker will probably have had an excellent tournament.
Olivier Giroud (France, 21) set a personal best for his time at Arsenal this season as he scored 24 times. However, an almost four-month barren spell in the league in the second half of the campaign again raised question marks about his quality. With Andre-Pierre Gignac in prolific form playing in Mexico there is no guarantee that Giroud is given the nod to start.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium, 20) failed to score in the final two months of the season for Everton and having been unstoppable back in November and December his form has really tailed off. A strike rate of just 11 goals in 42 international appearances suggests he might be more of a foil for Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard. That, combined with Belgium’s tough draw, tells us there are better prospects elsewhere.
Alvaro Morata (Spain, 26) only has one international goal to his name and has not enjoyed a prolific season with Juventus; scoring just 11 times in 46 games in all competitions. Spain have a very tough group and tend to share the goals around their midfielders as they look to pass their way through opponents rather than taking a direct approach. So while Fernando Torres and David Villa might have won the Golden Boot in 2012 and 2008 Spain don’t look to have a strong candidate for the scoring charts this time around.
Anthony Martial (France, 30) is yet to find the net for his country but after a superb campaign, where he was undoubtedly Man Utd’s best attacker, he should be full of confidence. He’s only started for France four times but looks set to play a key part. However, much like Griezmann he suffers from being stationed out on the wing in France’s 4-3-3 formation. Nevertheless at triple the odds he looks an enticing option given France’s relatively easy path to the semi-finals.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, 36.0) finished the season with 50 goals in 51 PSG games as he set a personal best tally for goals. He’s hinted that he’ll retire from international football after this but there’s no suggestion that he’s any less of a force. However, this Sweden team lacks quality around him and it’s hard to see him receiving the supply or advancing far enough in the competition to challenge for top scorer honours.
Wayne Rooney (England, 46) broke Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record in qualification but had his poorest league campaign in term of goals since his debut season 13 years ago. With Harry Kane now the focal point of England’s attacks he may be reduced to a deeper role.
Mario Mandzukic (Croatia, 42) was slightly out of favour at the start of the season with Juventus. However, when he returned to the team they couldn’t stop winning and he’s set to be a key figure for Croatia. He scored three times in Euro 2012 and while they are in a very tough group Croatia do like to go forward. Games against Turkey and the Czech Republic should provide chances with both those teams preferring to play open, attacking football, and that is in contrast to most of the other groups where many teams look likely to concentrate on defence first.
Mario Gotze (Germany, 65) scored the goal that won Germany the 2014 World Cup and has since been regularly utilised as a ‘false 9’ by Jogi Loew. With 17 goals in 50 internationals he has a good strike rate for a midfielder and being pushed into a more advanced position should offer him more chances. At five-times the odds of Muller he looks good value, but he lost his place in the Bayern team last season and also seems to have slipped down the pecking order with the national team. Instead, Mario Gomez could be used as a genuine number 9 or Muller could move centrally.
Nikola Kalinic (Croatia, 300) scored a hat-trick against Inter Milan back in September to highlight his improvement. Croatia have played with two strikers in some recent games but in a tough group we wouldn’t be surprised if they went back to playing with just Mandzukic up front, so while Kalinic looks a great price he’s probably best avoided.
Scoring goals in the group stage has been a key to topping the scoring charts in past European Championships but its importance should be slightly less this time with the addition of an extra knockout round.
Germany’s tough draw and the chance that they share the goals around between their attacking midfielders put us off Muller as the market favourite. However, Ronaldo looks a great price given a few easy group matches and his penchant for scoring hat-tricks against weaker opposition.
Along with the Madrid star, Anthony Martial looks an excellent price to take advantage of France’s relatively easy route to the semis while Mario Mandzukic has a big match temperament and should get plenty of service from a Croatian midfield packed with talent.