This is the second instalment of the Euro 2016 Championship previews following on from the Outright piece I published last week. To view that piece – click here.
Now it is time to turn our attention to the Top Goalscorer market. There are plenty of enticing odds available with the bookies and as usual Oddschecker is the best place to compare them.
Looking back at eight previous Championships dating back to 1984 – when France hosted and won – it is unsurprising to see that five players topped or were joint top having played for the nation crowned Champions.
So with that in mind I’ll start with a player who can lead the line well and pose plenty of headaches to defenders throughout this tournament for one of the teams I put up to claim the title once more.
Álvaro Morata has only been capped nine times but he is likely to start through the middle considering coach Vincente Del Bosque didn’t select Paco Alcacer or Diego Costa.
He is a versatile front player, which he has shown in scoring three international goals. His first came in a qualifier against Ukraine where he played as the lone striker, whilst the other two came in La Roja’s final friendly against South Korea when he played through the middle of a front three.
The 23 year old starts on the bench more often than starting at club level for Juventus but he scored seven goals last season, including the pivotal one that won the Old Lady the Coppa Italia in extra-time. He also claimed seven assists.
Of the last three tournaments the top scorer with the most goals was Milan Baros back in 2004 with five goals. It fell by a goal in each of the last two tournaments and at Euro 2012 there were five players joint top scorers with three goals.
I can see Morata scoring goals in this tournament with the players he has got around him. You look at the Spanish side and see plenty of threat and creativity with Andreas Iniesta, Cesc Fàbregas, Pedro, David Silva and Sergio Busquets – plus he’ll have the full-backs on the overlap providing pull backs in dangerous areas in the box.
With Spain winning the last two tournaments they’ve had a player involved in the top scorer charts. In 2008 it was David Villa with four goals and at the last tournament it was Fernando Torres, who was a joint top scorer with three goals.
There are plenty of ticks in boxes when it comes to the previous trends at tournaments and on top of that he is the best attacking option for Del Bosque to pick, so I’m expecting a big tournament from the man born in Madrid.
The next player I can see having a good tournament is Robert Lewandowski, who was top scorer during the qualifying campaign having notching on 13 occasions.
Poland scored most goals en-route to France with 33 and they do play some very good attacking football with plenty of pace and flair. They can be particularly dangerous on the counter attack.
The 27 year old partnership with Arkadiusz Milik has been one that has helped coach Adam Nawałka create a strong spine to this team that are likely to trouble Germany for top spot in Group C.
Milik’s presence in behind Lewandowski was another reason they were so free scoring in qualifying and the young Ajax man scored six times and ably assisted six more goals. This is definitely a pairing to watch throughout the tournament.
Another reason to be tempted by Lewandowski is his international record – 34 goals in 76 matches – plus he recorded a tally of 42 in all competitions for Bayern Munich last season.
Poland are in a tough group but this man notched against Germany in qualification, so could do so again plus you’d expect him to cause Northern Ireland a few problems. The Ukraine game is a bit of a concern as they are tight at the back. However with them likely to progress from the group he can go on run of scoring.
Best of the Rest
Cristiano Ronaldo heads the market after he was joint top scorer during Euro 2012. He will be the focal point and key player for Portugal unsurprisingly. His nation are in a group where he will be able to score goals but after the group stages it will become much tougher for the Portuguese and their reliance on Ronaldo could also prove to be their weakness.
From the French perspective Antoine Griezmann is shorter in the betting than Oliver Giroud. For me I prefer the price on Giroud because Les Blues play a style of football that suits the Arsenal forward and he has proved himself in these recent friendlies by scoring four goals in the three games he has started. Griezmann has been absent from those matches following Atletico Madrid’s Champions League final but when he did feature Didier Deschamps played him on one side of Giroud with Pogba on the other. Again things point to Giroud as a leading candidate for the hosts top scorer.
Thomas Muller is going to have the responsibility of scoring the majority of the goals for the World Champions. In Euro 2012 it was Mario Gomez who was a joint top scorer and following his retirement it will fall on the shoulders of Muller. When you look at how Joachim Low sets up his team it is likely that the Bayern Munich man will start out wide to accommodate Mario Gotze, which I feel he is short enough in the betting for.
Most of the expectancy for England goals will fall at the lap of Harry Kane. The Spurs forward has been the best English striker around in the last two season and didn’t flop last season as many expected. Five goals in 12 international appearances and surely has to lead the line for the Three Lions come Saturday against Russia. In a group where I feel defences will be on top I’m happy to take on any of the English frontmen.
There has been lots of transfer speculation around Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s next club but that won’t put him off what he does best for Sweden. The 34 year old has 62 international goals and 11 of them came in this qualifying campaign. With him in the side they are a threat but without him focus would turn to John Guidetti. The Swedes are in a group where they can finish third minimum but ideally they’d want to avoid the winners of Group A in a last 16 contest.
Other bets for the tournament regarding goalscorers would have to include:
Mario Mandžukić top Croatia goalscorer (11/4)
Marc Janko top Austria goalscorer (9/4)
Romelu Lukaku top Belgium goalscorer (11/4)
Oliver Giroud top France goalscorer (7/2)
Overall these are the two that are going to stake big claims for the Golden Boot.
Advice: Alvaro Morata (21/1)
Robert Lewandowski (16/1)