So where is the value in this tournaments top goalscorer market? France 2016 will be the first European Championships to feature 24 nations and that means 16 teams will play at least 4 games and the 2 finalists will contest 7 matches in all. The setup is now similar to the World Cup, as such it’s worth using these previous tournaments when trying to analyse trends. In every World Cup since 1982 (the first to feature 24 nations), the Golden Boot winner has come from a team that has reached at least the quarter finals. The one exception being Oleg Salenko, who bagged a share of the 1994 award thanks to 5 goals in one group game against Cameroon.
Looking at the ‘To Reach the quarter Final market’, France & Germany appear to be dead-certs and this is reflected in the short prices of both Antoinne Griezeman (11.0) and Thomas Muller (9.0). Muller is undoubtedly proven at this level and fully justifies his single figure price. Griezeman is more of an unknown quantity when it comes to tournament football. The hosts haven’t played a competitive game in 2 years and so it is difficult to say with any certainty how they will line up against Romania on June 8th. Deschamps showed in the last World Cup that he wasn’t afraid to rethink his forward line mid-tournament and the likes of Olivier Giroud (17.5) will also be keen to impress given the chance. An uninspiring selection it may be, but with his tournament pedigree, Muller may well be the best pick from the two teams favoured to lift the trophy.
The other 3 nations that are odds-on to play at least 5 games are Belgium, England and defending Champions Spain. Belgium have a number of players that are very familiar to EPL fans, however you can’t help but think that their forward line would have looked a lot more threatening if this tournament had taken place 12 months ago. Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke have been well off the pace all season and Romelu Lukaku (21.0) tailed off dramatically in the last 3 months of Everton’s difficult campaign.
Harry Kane (17.0) has now firmly established himself as England’s spearhead, with Wayne Rooney almost certainly accepting a slightly deeper role. However, the Spurs man did not convince with the dead-ball in the recent friendly against Turkey, hitting a number of wayward free-kicks and lashing a penalty off the post. The England skipper may continue to have the last word when it comes to direct kicks at goal.
If Spain are to make it three titles in succession, it is unlikely to be due to their wealth of attacking options. Their triumph 4 years ago was achieved largely without the use of a recognised striker and the injury to Diego Costa leaves Spain a little short on options up top this time round as well. Despite having only 8 caps, Alvaro Morata (26.0) could well be given an opportunity ahead of veteran front man Aritz Aduriz. The 23 year old already has not had a prolific season with Juve and struggles for consistency; however, he does have tournament pedigree having topped the scoring charts at the 2013 U21 Championships and the U19 Tournament 2 years previous. It’s also worth noting that if Spain, France and Germany all top their group as is expected, La Roja will avoid the two favourites all the way until the final.
The Italians unquestionably know how to compete at major tournaments but they head to France with arguably their weakest squad in years. This is illustrated by the fact that their current preferred striker Graziano Pelle (51.0) has struggled to nail down a starting place at Southampton this season. He may well face the same problem in France as Antonio Conte seems far from convinced as to who should be leading the line for the Azzurri.
Two forwards who can be sure of their place are Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic (41.0), and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (17.0). Mandzukic was one of 6 players to finish on 3 goals in 2012 and seemingly has no problem in meeting the demands of tournament football. Lewandowski meanwhile, notched 13 goals in qualifying and is one of the game’s most complete strikers. The problem for Croatia is that unless they can sneak above Spain in the group, they can probably expect a very tough last 16 match against either Belgium or Italy. In contrast, the schedule looks a little kinder to Poland should they finish runners-up to the Germans. They will no doubt fancy their chances against whichever team finishes behind France in Group A.
Over in Group F, bookmakers favourite Cristiano Ronaldo (9.0) has scored in every major tournament without ever really being a serious contender for the Golden Boot. As usual, he will be a marked man this summer, particularly if Portugal continue to place too much reliance on their talisman.
Austrian coach Marcel Koller likes his team to play a modern, high-press game with plenty of intensity. Notably, they have managed to score in each of their last 22 International fixtures and neither Iceland nor Hungary are likely to prevent them from finishing in the top 2. Therefore Marc Janko (67.0) looks great value for an each way punt. The FC Basel man averages a goal every other game at International level and will be ably supported by the likes of David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic. The strange quirk in this section is that, if all the other groups go to form, the runner-up looks likely to have a more favourable draw than the winners. Austria might seem like the football hipsters’ selection, but it will be no surprise if they are still in this tournament by the time July comes around.