The UEFA Champions League returns to our screens this week with the start of the knockout stage of the competition, and some of the big guns are immediately in action with Bayern, Chelsea and Real Madrid all set to play midweek. One of our astute tipsters has already offered his advice on match-betting on this week’s games, and in this piece, we’ll be taking a look at the market for the tournament’s top scorer.
There could be some real value to be had in this particular market, as we think Messi and Adriano (for reasons we’ll explain) are not worthy of their positions at the head of the market, and therefore, are inflating the prices on everyone else. Here’s the current scoring charts in the competition so far:
9 goals – Adriano (Shakhtar Donetsk)
8 goals – Messi (Barcelona)
5 goals – Ronaldo, Benzema (Real Madrid), Aguero (Man City), Cavani (PSG), Mandzukic (Atletico Madrid), Martinez (Porto)
Adriano has raced ahead to nine goals by virtue of a couple of heavy Shakhtar wins over BATE in the group stages, and Messi continues to do the business, having amassed eight goals in the group stages, including a hat-trick against APOEL. However, there are a clutch of players on five goals who could all be in with a shout of overtaking the top two if they struggle to score many more in the competition. There are up to seven games left for goals to be scored – two legs in each of the last 16, the quarter-finals, and the semi-finals, and then the one-off match in the final. It makes sense to look for teams who we fancy to progress, and the players in those sides will have more opportunities to get goals. Messi and Barcelona have the ability to go all the way, and it makes sense that he’s favourite, but if he (or the team) fall short this season, Ronaldo and Benzema both look good value to outscore the Little Wizard by the end of the tournament.
Lionel Messi is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, and his record speaks for itself. He notched a hat-trick away at APOEL in the group stage of the competition back in November, to add to the two he scored away in Ajax, the one he bagged at home to the Dutch side, and the two that he scored home and away against PSG. He’s already equaled the eight he scored in last season’s competition and looks set to go one better this time around. He’s notched 26 already in La Liga in Spain, and is in generally very good form. However, Barcelona have Neymar and Suarez to join in the scoring duties these days, and the Catalan club are not so reliant on Messi’s genius. They also have a tough match against Man City in the last 16, and there will be very few ‘easy’ games beyond this round, if they make it that far.
Ronaldo – +350 with Betfred
Christiano Ronaldo looks much more appealing at the prices, considering he was top scorer in last year’s competition with a phenomenal 17 goals. He grabbed five in the group stages as Real accounted for Liverpool, Ludogorets Razgrad and Basel, and there’s no reason why he can’t grab a few more in the knockout stages. Madrid were given a kind draw for the last 16 – a repeat of last season’s draw at this stage against Schalke. The German side were humiliated 9-2 on aggregate by the Galactico’s over two legs last year, and must be cursing their luck to draw them again. Ronaldo bagged four goals in those two games, so it’s certainly worth backing him before Wednesday’s match in the hope that he can find the back of the net a few times again.
Adriano – +450 with Paddy Power
Adriano was helped to nine goals by Shakhtar’s 5-0 and 7-0 drubbings of BATE Borisov, but he looks vulnerable at the top of the market and is there to be shot at. Amazingly, eight of his goals came in those two matches, and with Bayern Munich up next, it would be no surprise if he failed to add to that tally. Shakthar drew the German Champions in the last 16, and that’s a particularly tough tie. They’re not helped by the fact that they can’t play in their own stadium due to the troubles in Ukraine, nor by the fact that this will be their first competitive game after the mid-season winter break. It’s hard to imagine anything other than a big Bayern victory over the two legs, and Adriano makes absolutely no appeal to remain at the head of affairs in the top scorer market.
Benzema – +1800 with Skybet
Karim Benzema, like Ronaldo, has five goals in the competition so far, but his price is much higher than that of his teammate. That’s understandable to a degree – Benzema isn’t really in the Madrid side for his goal-poaching, but more for his ability to hold the ball up and bring others, such as Ronaldo and Bale, into play. That’s reflected in the fact that he’s only got 12 La Liga goals compared to Ronaldo’s 28, but both are likely to play the majority of minutes in Real’s remaining Champions League games, and the French striker has every chance of racking up the goals. Most bookies are offering a third of the odds for a second-placed finish, and that makes it possible to have an each-way bet on Benzema alongside the main bet on Ronaldo. If these two can score goals in the two legs against Schalke, their prices will surely tumble, and they’re both worth backing at this stage to surpass the tally of Lionel Messi.
To be Champions League Top Scorer 2014/15
Christiano Ronaldo – +350 with Betfred
Karim Benzema – Each Way – +1800 with Skybet
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