Euro 2012 – Golden Boot Contenders

30 May

Regular readers will know that I’ve been tracking the big game players across the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga, and with Euro 2012 just around the corner, I thought I’d post up the goalscoring stats of 50 players heading to Poland and the Ukraine based on the four leagues this season. Tournaments are made up of several high pressure big games, so who steps up and who bottles it?

First and foremost, the race for the golden boot, and who you should put your well earned money behind. These are the list of the players heading to the Euros with 20+ league goals behind them:

 1. Cristiano Ronaldo – If it wasn’t for Leo Messi, he’d be untouchable as the World’s best player at the moment. As it is, he’s still one of the top two. In a phrase normally reserved for the original Ronaldo, he’s been a phenomenom. Scoring 40+ goals is an amazing achievement, and he deserves the comparison with Clive Allen. Not that anyone has made that comparison. Anyway, Portugal have a toughest group with Germany, Holland and Denmark but Ronaldo’s 13 goals against Top 6 opponent’s including the winner away at Barcelona, proves that he can do it against the very best. He also has the small matter of proving to the World he can do it in a big tournament after just 3 goals in the last two Euros, and just one in the World Cup.

Best Odds: 14-1 Stan James and Bet Victor

2. Robin van Persie – There was always the question mark around Robin van Persie, what could he do if he was fit? Well this season finally saw this season answered at the age of 28. The first player to hit 30 Premier League goals in 4 years, he counted goals against Man Utd, Spurs, Chelsea and Barcelona this season to prove he has the mentality for the big games. Like Ronaldo, he has something to prove on a tournament stage with just one goal in the 2010 World Cup as Holland got to the final, and in prior European Championships, he scored twice in 2008 from a wider position. This time he’ll most likely be playing down the middle. If not, he’ll be deployed behind Huntelaar, but still able to score. As with Ronaldo, he is also operating in the toughest group, which means the odds are that bit more generous.

Best Odds: 12-1 Paddy Power

3. Klaas Jan Huntelaar – Much like the two names above him, he has pretty generous odds dspite scoring a very impressive 29 league goals in a 34 game Bundesliga. However, looking at his goalscoring a little deeper, and you’ll see that he scored just twice against Top 6 teams, with a massive 12 goals coming against the bottom 4 teams (18 team league), which lends a Flat Track Bully tone to his impressive goalscoring. Being in the group if death, there’s not really any poor opposition for him to Bully. Another reason for the generous odds is that it’s still not decided who will play the central striking role for Holland. If it’s van Persie then Huntelaar will be on the bench, if it’s Huntelaar then van Persie will be moved either deeper of wider.

Best Odds: 18-1 Paddy Power

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Everyone’s favourite pantomime villain had a bittersweet season. He has his most prolific league season with 28 league goals, but it’s the first time that he hasn’t won the league in 8 years. As with Huntelaar, there’s an element of the Flat Track Bully about his goals. You can probably expect him to score a hat trick against Ukraine and then do sod all against France and England – that’s if England can still be classed as a big team. As with all of those above him, he still has to prove himself on the biggest stages, and at 30, he’s running out of time. Why the long odds? Despite being one of the best players in Europe (and of all time in his head), Sweden aren’t expected to progress past the group stage. Based on prior tournaments, 5 goals could be enough, so a hat full against Ukraine and there’s a chance.

Best Odds: 50-1 Paddy Power, William Hill, Bet365, Bet Victor and Coral

5. Wayne Rooney – England’s main hope but suspended for the games against France and Sweden. He’ll be hoping that England are still in with a chance of qualifying come the final game against Ukraine. That may end up being a must win game, bringing with it big pressure. And that’s where Rooney comes good. This season’s 27 league goals saw 8 against Top 6 opposition, including a hat trick against Arsenal (finished 3rd) and a brace away at European Champions Chelsea. To get the golden boot is a big ask, but if he can notch a few against the co-hosts, momentum could see him carry on his scoring form into the rest of the tournament. He’s had two poor to average World Cups but his finest performances in an England shirt came in Euro 2004, so there is some hope.

Best Odds: 40-1 BetFred, Bet365, Bet Victor, Coral

6. Mario Gomez – See the below article for my thoughts on Mario Gomez. In short, he’s the biggest Flat Track Bully/Big Game Bottler of the lot. His tally of 26 goals was undoubtedly a good season, however, only 3 came against Top 6 opposition (only one based on positions at the time of play), and in both games against Dortmund in the league, and then in the cup final, he went missing. He has lots of shots and has little composure in the big games. There is some hope for those that have already bet on him – he scored a hat trick against Napoli and a double against Man City in the group stages of the Champions League. Maybe, just maybe he might grab a few against Portugal and Denmark in the group stages. A lot also depends on the fitness of Miroslav Klose. If he’s fit then Mario is on the bench, but it’s a big if. Amazingly he’s the favourite for the Golden Boot.

Best Odds: 8-1 Paddy Power, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet Victor

7. Antonio Di Natale – Despite being the ripe old age of 34, the Udinese striker has scored 80 goals in the last three Serie A seasons. This season saw him bang in 23 of those, 4 of which were scored against Top 6 Opposition. No one (Prandelli aside), is really sure who is going to start up front for the Italians, and so he’s a bit of a risk. And despite being prolific at club level, he has a rather more modest 10 goals in 36 appearances for his country. He has hinted that he may be retiring after (winning) the Euro’s so this could be his swansong, but he has a tough group and Balotelli in front of him.

Best Odds: 33-1 William Hill

8. Robert Lewandowski – A lot of people have him as the dark horse for the Golden Boot, and not without reason. The Borussia Dortmund striker is in fine form after notching 22 league goals last season as he picked up the double. He also scored a hat trick in the German Cup Final against Bayern Munich – big game mentality it seems, though he only had 3 goals against the remaining Top 5 teams in Germany. Poland have the added advantage of being hosts, and their group of Greece, Czech Republic and Russia, should see them qualify, and give Lewandowski the chance to score a few.

Best Odds: 25-1 Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, BetFred

9.Karim Benzema -2011-12 became the season that Benzema finally delivered on his promise with Real Madrid. Despite only being the 3rd Top Scorer at his club (Behind Ronaldo and Higuain), he still hit a decent 21 league goals for the Spanish Champions. Only three of these were against Top 6 teams though, and in the Champions League semi final, it was Ronaldo and Ozil that scored over the two legs as the Madrid giants went out, so there is the question mark over his contribution in the biggest games, although he can point to a goal against Barcelona earlier in the season. Another question mark is whether he’ll be a starter for France, with rumours of Olivier Giroud (21 goals in Ligue Un – 50-1) being favourite. A group containing England, Sweden and the Ukraine is tough-ish, but not without it’s opportunities.

Best Odds: 16-1 Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Betfair, Bet365, BetFred, Bet Victor, Coral

The Others:

The one that really stands out for me is Miroslav Klose – he has a history of delivering in the big tournaments (14 World Cup goals, and Quarter and Semi final goals in Euro 2008) and whilst fit with Lazio for the first half of the season, he certainly delivered – scoring 13 goals in just 25 games in a new country. Add to that his Polish background and it all looks promising for the big striker. The only downside is his injury. He missed the latter parts of the season for Lazio, and whilst he did play for Germany at the weekend, he’s still short on match fitness. Germany will certainly be better with him in the team over Gomez. His odds are 16-1 with Paddy Power.

German team mate Lukas Podolski should be pretty much guaranteed his starting place in the team, and despite relegation, he scored a decent 18 goals for Cologne. And what’s more, not one was against the lower ranked opponents, with the Polish born forward hitting 6 aganist the Top teams. Add to that his prior performances in tournament football and like Klose, his affinity with Poland, and all of a sudden he looks pretty good at 25-1. Although he does play more from wide for the German national team.

Spain is an interesting one, with David Villa out through injury, and the decision to leave Roberto Soldado at home, it looks like a choice between a re-energised Torres (20-1) or Bilbao’s Llorente (16-1). It’s hard to call who will start, but del Bosque is a loyal coach, and with Torres’ high profile goal against Barcelona fresh in the mind, he may well get the nod. Llorente’s club season only finished on Friday due to the lateness of the Copa del Rey.

Aside from that, Mario Balotelli at 25-1 isn’t a bad shout. His goals dried up in the second half of the season, but he was undoubtedly a big game performer – at home with pressure. Think to the two goals away at Old Trafford and the coolness of the last minute penalty to win the game against a title chasing Spurs. The downside is that he’s mental and could easily get sent off as score a goal. Group games against Croatia and the Republic of Ireland will allow him ample opportunity to influence the tournament.

The Midfielders (and John Terry):

For slightly more generous odds, there’s plenty of goalscoring talent from deep:

Bayern Munich duo Robben and Ribery can be found at 40-1 and 66-1 respectively. Both had fine goalscoring seasons as Munich challenged (though failed) on three fronts – though neither really did it on the big occasion, with Robben in particular missing important chances (including penalties) to add to the idea that he bottles it on the biggest occasion – think of his chances in the World Cup Final. Elsewhere, Gerrard didn’t score many this year, but the 5 league goals came against Man Utd (2nd), Newcastle (5th) and local rivals Everton (7th) – all big games. He has the added responsibility of captaining the team, and it would appear as though he’s playing a more disciplined Central Midfield role. At 80-1, BetFred are offering the best odds.

Thomas Mueller got the Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup with 5 goals. He hasn’t had a vintage season with Munich with just 7 goals, but 3 were against Top 6 opponents, and most recently, he scored in the Champions League Final to put the Germans ahead. At 25-1, he’s not a bad bet.

Not on the list but featuring heavily for Irish betting is Robbie Keane. He’s played mainly in North America this season, though his 3 goal cameo for Aston Villa on loan showed that he was still Premier League class – though fans of West Ham would question that based on 2010-11 performances. He’s the all time Ireland leading scorer with a decent 53 goals, and in the last tournament he played (World Cup 2002), he scored a decent 3 goals, including a last minute equaliser against eventual finalists Germany. He can be found at 150-1 on Coral.

For those patriotic and slightly foolish England fans who have more money than sense, John Terry (6 goals last season) can be backed at 250-1!

The full odds used in the above article can be found here.

Cheers,

Liam

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One Response to “Euro 2012 – Golden Boot Contenders”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Euro 2012 – The Findings « average opposition .com - July 2, 2012

    […] There were of course some other teams playing, and this being a site that concetrates on the Big Game Player, here’s a quick look at some of the names that entered the tournament with big expectations (as originally previewed here). […]

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