Both the Argentine and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the scoring charts in the Champions League for years, but could the Bayern Munich forward change that this year?
The Champions League returns this week, and, as they have generally done with most tournaments in which they have featured, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected to continue dominating the scoring charts of Europe’s premier club competition as they have done over the last decade.
Last season, the two finished in a three-way tie along with Neymar as the competition’s top scorers on ten goals, while the last time a player who was not Messi or Ronaldo headed the Champions League scoring charts was 2007.
On that occasion in was Kaka for AC Milan, but since then the two La Liga stars have had a scoring duopoly on the competition meaning it is unsurprising to find them leading the way in NetBet’s market for top scorer. Messi is the slight favorite at 47/20 (3.35) while Ronaldo is offered at 57/20 (3.85).
Neither group appears overly easier than the other, although the defending European champions have enjoyed severalhigh scoring recent wins over Leverkusen (7-1 in 2012) and BATE (0-5 in 2011), and we could see Messi help himself to a good number of group stage goals if such scorelines are repeated.
Also looking to take advantage would be Messi’s team-mate Luis Suarez, who comes next in the betting at31/4 (8.75). His impressive haul of seven goals in ten Champions League games last season certainly establishes him as a threat to the two favourites.
There is another jump in the betting to Neymar, who is offered at 11/1 (12.00) before we arrive at the first player from a non-Spanish team in Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern have been drawn together with Arsenal, Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, and while the Premier League side will provide stern opposition, the other two group opponents should realistically be beaten home and away. Winning their group would mean a favourable Round of 16 draw for Pep Guardiola’s men, which should see them into the quarter-finals where they will be favorites against almost anyone.
The longer a side is in the competition, the better the chance one of their players has of being top scorer and this is perhaps one of the reasons why Lewandowski appeals more than Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, who is offered at the same price.
Elsewhere, Chelsea’s Diego Costa is offered at 24/1 (25.00), and while the Premier League champions have a straightforward-looking group, they are rarely prolific.
England captain Wayne Rooney is offered at 40/1 (41.00) meanwhile, although his Manchester United side are not expected to shine on their Champions League return. Rooney himself has generated plenty of discussion about his position and effectiveness within the side.
Lewandowski therefore represents a potentially excellent value option; the Polish forward is of the rare combination of being one of the favourites for the top-scorer tag, drawn in a favourable looking group, and boasting an excellent scoring record in the competition (22 goals in his last 34 appearances).
At the very least he should be taken as an each way bet to the Champions League top scorer this season.