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It might have gotten lost in the back of your brain somewhere after the last 18 months we’ve had to endure, but folks – we’re just five weeks away from the European Championships. While we’ve had very little to be happy about for a while – and even less so if you’re an Arsenal fan – there’s always something about a summer tournament that lifts the mood.
Last week we previewed where the smart money lies in terms of outright betting, and this week we’ll take a look at an equally-competitive market in the Top Goalscorer stakes. It’s worth pointing out that Antoine Griezmann’s six goals scored in 2016 were the second highest tally ever pieced together – only bettered by fellow Frenchman Michel Platini in 1984.
But, maybe most incredibly, all of his goals came (bar one) in the knockout rounds. Two of which we certainly won’t be speaking about.
However, traditionally speaking, this award is won in the group stages. So, using that nugget, let’s take a look at one bet you want, one bet you really don’t – and a long shot for those ambitious types among us.
There is not a more in-form striker in Europe at this moment. There is arguably not a better creative force in the world than Kevin De Bruyne either. So, what do we get when we combine the two? Absolute chaos.
His opponents in the group stages? Russia, Finland and Denmark. I’m not being funny, but Lukaku could break Platini’s record in these three games alone if he wants to.
He’s the biggest mismatch in football. He’s quick, he’s impossible to move off the ball and he’s sensational in the air. The former Man United man does feel like he can score from anywhere.
The Netherlands are one of the best sides in the world at playing situational football. They know their strengths and they don’t move away from them. Then Virgil van Dijk did his ACL and that’s gone about as well for them as it did for Liverpool.
They’re now more focused on outscoring sides, which is far from their modus operandi traditionally. But, the one to benefit from that will be Memphis Depay, whose goalscoring record for Lyon and indeed his country might seem like he’s not a leading contender. However, he does possess the positional flexibility that Griezmann had in 2016.
He can play anywhere to exploit back threes, back fours, or in Scotland’s case – back nines. The group he’s found himself in contains themselves, Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia. Go forth and speculate.
Portugal have got a near-impossible group going up against France, Germany and well, Hungary – but they genuinely might not qualify from it.
So, in reality, you could be landed in a situation where you’re reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo to score five in the one game he’ll be given space. It would be a lovely talking point, but there’s no way on this earth that he’ll be in the running for this golden boot of sorts with a group like that.