As we approach the last 8 of this year’s European Championships, a number of players remain in with a chance of landing the Golden Boot. So who are the men most likely to finish as the tournament’s top goal scorer?
A player that like his countryman Roberto Lewandowski, could be a household name post-Euro 2016. Milik opened up his account with the opening goal against Northern Ireland, and showcased why it will be him – and not Lewandowski – who will score the goals for his country. The Bayern Munich striker played more of a reduced role, creating space and offering up the running for Milik to centre stage. Milik showed his instincts in and around the area meanwhile, just like he did for Ajax this past season where he scored 24 goals in 42 games last term. His total for the Dutch side is now 47 in just 75 games both domestically and in European competition – an outstanding scoring rate for a player adept with both his feet and head. With games to come against a shaky German backline – who Milik already breached during qualifying – and a weak Ukraine there could be more goals to come from one of Europe’s most sought after strikers.
The Southampton striker’s inclusion in the Italy squad was to the dismay of many back in his native country, but he could be set to play a key role for Antonio Conte’s team. Pellè is the man positioned to lead Italy’s attacking line, and with Conte’s men setup to counter and be clinical, it will be down to the 30-year-old to take those chances. He’s shown at Southampton he’s capable of it, just like he did prior in Holland. What’s more, if this is a low scoring tournament he could be someone to take advantage by scoring key, timely goals and sneaking above bigger names in the competition. His physicality, and tendency to get on the end of crosses, makes him a real threat. He also showed against Belgium he remains aware throughout the game, as he buried a chance that came his way with a superb volley at the death.
The obvious choices
When it comes to the big stage, few gobble it up more than Thomas Muller. With one Golden Boot from a World Cup to his name, and a Silver one for good measure, the German must now turn his attention to the smaller matter of the European Championship. It will surely be only a matter of time before the Bayern Munich man is off the mark, and as the true striker in the German squad opportunities will come his way to lead the line. More so, he is backed by an outstanding creative cast lead by none other than the assist king himself, Mesut Ozil. A haul of 20 goals in the Bundesliga this term shows he’s still fierce in attack, and it will be no surprise should he continue his incredible exploits for Germany.
Like Thomas Muller, the French striker is backed by a brilliant supporting cast of creative players. If Antoine Griezmann or Paul Pogba doesn’t have a good day, Dimitri Payet will be waiting in the wings to supply the Arsenal man. Giroud’s capable of scoring in a variety of manners but he’s best when prowling in the area, looking to get on the end of a cross or ready to pounce on a loose ball in the box. He may not be entirely convincing as a striker but Giroud has an incredible knack of bagging goals as and when required. While Karim Benzema sits at home, it will be Giroud who leads the French line on home turf.
It’s time for Cristiano Ronaldo to finally deliver on the International stage, and backed by perhaps the best Portugal team he’s played with, there may be no better time. After his penalty heroics for Real Madrid in the Champions League final, Cristiano now turns his attention to Euro 2016. The hunger and drive in Cristiano is always there, but now he seems hell-bent more than ever on delivering success for Portugal. He will be leading the line given his formation into a striker of sorts, and also the lack of out and out forward players the Portuguese possess. Expect Cristiano to hunt chances down in the penalty area and look to latch onto crosses, and look for him to still pick up the ball in that trademark wide berth and drive infield.