In Depth

Euro 2016: Golden Boot favourites – Ronaldo, Muller... Bale?

Extended format and move away from classical centre-forwards makes it tricky to predict who will be the top scorer

The battle to be top scorer at Euro 2016 looks wide open at a tournament featuring 28 teams but far fewer out-and-out goal poachers. 

By picking five strikers in his England squad, Roy Hodgson has bucked the trend for Euro 2016 as most of the major countries have opted for fluidity up front and there will be few specialists on display.

France, for example, are likely to have Antoine Griezmann and Anthony Martial as their main threats and they have spent much of the season playing on the wings or through midfield for their club sides. Meanwhile, the likes of Robert Lewandowski, arguably Europe's best centre-forward, will be relying on service from his Polish team-mates rather than the star-studded Bayern Munich midfield.

"Either the best centre-forwards don't play for the best teams, or good centre-forwards in good teams are in tougher groups," says ESPN. "This is also why the lack of strikers in the top sides is so relevant."

All in all, it is "rather difficult to pick potential candidates for the scoring title at this point, beyond simply selecting an exceptional star like Cristiano Ronaldo", says ESPN.

Adding to the confusion is the fact there are 24 teams and 16 of them will play at least four games. For example, if Ronaldo fills his boots in Group F against weak opposition, he could take the title even if Portugal go out in the last 16. 

Thomas Muller of Germany could be the beneficiary of the confusion. "With 32 goals in 71 internationals, his record alone stands out," says the Daily Mirror. "But he's also proven himself at major tournaments (ten World Cup goals), has perhaps the competition's most creative midfield supporting him and the world champions are widely-tipped to go all the way, as they did in Brazil two years ago."

Antoine Griezmann of France may not be a classical striker, but after a 32-goal season with Atletico Madrid, he has almost the same odds as Muller and Ronaldo to win the boot - 8-1, partly because Group A looks so easy for the French. Lewandowski, on the other hand, is double those odds at 16-1, even though Poland will expect to make it out of Group C

Away from the main nations, the likes of Wales's Gareth Bale offer good value. The world's most expensive footballer is available at 50-1, despite his goalscoring record. 

"Wales scored 11 goals in ten qualifying games; Bale scored seven of them," notes Football 365. "He will take all of the free-kicks. He will take all of the penalties. Wales are likely to progress at least past the group stage, providing the 26-year-old with ample goalscoring opportunities. Plus he will face Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling for 90 minutes."

A similar logic can be applied to Zlatan Ibrahimovic of unfancied Sweden, although he is unlikely to fill his boots against Italy or Belgium and his side are unlikely to get much further than the last 16.

England's best bet is Harry Kane, who is guaranteed to start the group games, although he has plenty of competition from the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford.

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