Finding the winner of the Champions League Golden Boot has often been a simpler task than finding the winner of the trophy itself. Christiano Ronaldo backers have won this for the last five seasons, and in the other season a dead heat occurred with Lionel Messi and Neymar. Messi himself has four wins in this competition and one has to go back to Kaka’s success in 2007 for an occasion when either of the two were not involved at the end.
The special two are in their 30’s (Ronaldo 33, Messi 31) but their World Cups – when both shone for teams that disappointed in outright terms – show they are as good as ever and they’re on the board this season.
Betting against Ronaldo might seem like heresy, but Juventus do not have a soft group with the Conservative Manchester United and Valencia outside of Young Boys, and they simply do not score as much, or play as freely, as Real Madrid.
Barcelona don’t have an easy group either, although they should feel confident of scoring plenty past PSV twice and getting in behind and Inter defence that has been leaky so far. Whilst the presence of Osumane Dembele has given another outlet for Barcelona, Messi appears to have started the season in truly exceptional form and he is a worthy favourite.
It’s not worth his is a market with four places, ties included, and it’s a pretty generous each/way betting contest. 15 clubs are odds on to make it to the last 16 and 8 clubs are strongly favoured to make the quarter-finals, giving a player potentially nine games to rack up a high total.
Bayern Munich are 1/4 to win a group containing Benfica, Ajax and AEK Athens, and just 8/1 to win a competition in which they made the semi-finals last year. There are reasons they have been swerved in the outright betting, but a bold bid should be no surprise and they should have plenty of chances to score.
This has helped Robert Lewandowski scored 45 goals in 70 games for Munich and the Polish forward, who takes penalties and is brilliant with both feet and his head, is in no danger of rotation thanks to their domestic dominance. He ought to get eight games at least, along with great service from Thiago, Thomas Muiller and James Rodriguez, and appears a fine each/way option at 12/1.
Christiano Ronaldo may have left Real Madrid but the goals are very much still there, and more than one person could benefit from the absence of the Portuguese. His absence has given a big opportunity for two strikers who were suffering under his presence – Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Bale scored twice in the final last year and is now the lead man with Ronaldo gone, removing any baggage from last season, and he already has three goals and two assists in four games.
Another player who is thriving now Ronaldo is gone is Karim Benzema, who has struggled at times over the past two seasons (he scored in the final but that was his only European goal) but he too his thriving with more space and four league starts have brought him four goals. The Frenchman has 56 Champions League goals in his career and already looks to have the confidence of his early years in Madrid, when he was one of the most feared
Julen Lopetegui has very much tried to continue with the same free flowing style for Madrid after taking over from Zidane and a group with Roma, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen offers a chance for plenty of big wins, whilst Madrid scored 5 against PSG, 4 against Juventus, and four against Bayern Munich in two legs last season.
Liverpool could start without Roberto Firmino and either of Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane, with the latter having a lighting fast start to the season, would make appeal whilst Neymar could lead the line for PSG but both Edinson Cavani or Kylan Mbappe could take goals away from him.
Manchester City have a ton of potential scorers in their attacking lineup, all of whom could rotate, and it is too hard to pick just one out of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling and that’s before the midfielders.
1 pt each/way Robert Lewandowski (12/1 general)
1 pt each/way Gareth Bale (20/1 Ladbrokes, Bet Victor, Coral)
1 pt each/way Karim Benzema (33/1 Bet365, SkyBet, Bet Victor)