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Who Is Going to Be the UEFA Champions League Top Scorer?
I honestly love betting on the top scorer of soccer competitions, and the UEFA Champions League is not an exception. I think this market is so underrated because you could find some solid betting opportunities.
The draw of the UEFA Champions League was conducted last week, so we now know what the group stage will look like. I think the timing is perfect to check the betting odds for the top goal scorer of the competition and see if there is some value available.
I will go through most of the contenders one by one. Before I start, I think it would be a good idea to explain the criteria I intend to use in my evaluation.
This will help you understand the logic behind the top scorer betting option and help you prepare yourself in similar future situations.
Main Criteria When Picking the UCL Top Scorer
There are plenty of factors that play a role here, and each should be carefully considered if you want to be successful. Let’s take a look at the main ones.
How Far Can the Team Go?
Naturally, a player that has more games has a bigger chance to score more goals. This is the reason why the top scorers of the Champions League usually come from teams that reach at least the last 8 or even the last 4.
The simple math shows that there are 6 games that are part of the group stage. If a team gets eliminated in the first knockout stage, the player will get the chance to play a total of 8 times max. If he reaches the semis, this means 12 games max.
That’s a 50% difference in the potential playing time, not counting potential extra-time situations that could be another booster. Sure, the knockout matches are much closer, and there are fewer goals there, but it’s still a big difference.
This is why you should probably stick to guys who will have the chance to play 10+ games in the UEFA Champions League.
Style of the Team
Most of the time, the guy who scores the most goals plays on one of the teams that create the most chances. I know that sounds quite obvious, but a lot of people underestimate it.
The likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man City, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich are examples of teams that will most probably score loads of goals. I’m quite sure that most of the top scorers in the Champions League will be playing for one of those clubs.
Role of the Player You Picked
Ideally, the player you pick will be the most important for his team and the focal point of attack. This means that the whole style of the side will be built around his best qualities and with the purpose of giving him as many chances to score as possible.
On top of that, you could expect to see this particular player participate in most of the games of his team. You won’t notice the likes of Messi or Harry Kane not starting, unless the club has already qualified for the next stage.
Rotations and Injuries
Obviously, the potential number of games each player could get is essential to his chances of finding the net the most times. Some guys are injury-prone, so their health issues could be expected to be a problem and eventually prevent them from taking part in some games.
The same can be said about players who are not established as certain starters. If a team has a couple of strong strikers, you could expect some rotations and different formations. You want to avoid that, naturally.
I always stress on this one when I’m talking about picking a top scorer, and the Champions League is not an exception. If a certain player takes the penalties of his side, there’s a good chance that he will score a couple of goals that way.
It’s like a handicap against other players that are not taking the penalties. It’s a bit similar with dangerous free kicks, but not to the same extent.
Opponents in the Group Stage
One of the most crucial factors is related to the group stage. This is the phase of the UEFA Champions league when some of the favorites play teams that are significantly weaker.
If the side got lucky with the draw, it could have up to 2 opponents that are way below its level. This means 4 games against a defense that could hardly cope.
UEFA Champions League Top Scorer Contenders
With a clear idea what should be considered, it’s now time to take a closer look at the actual odds and the favorites. BetOnline is one of the bookies that provide the chance to bet on this market, so I decided to use the prices there.
I will share my opinion on the top 5 contenders, based on the price of the bookies, and add a couple of more names that make sense, in my opinion.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 6.00
It’s only natural to see Lionel Messi on the top of this list, as the Argentinian has been one of the most consistent goal scorers in the history of the game. The playmaker has scored at least 6 goals in each of the last 11 seasons in the Champions League, which is absolutely stunning.
And yet, the last time Messi was the top scorer of the tournament happened in the 2011-2012 season. He might be around the top of the rankings often, but winning it is another story.
Sure, Messi will certainly score a lot of goals, and Barcelona is built completely around him. This is the reason why the price of 6.00 seems tempting at first, but I don’t it’s a good idea to back the Argentinian.
A quick look at the Barcelona group shows that the side will play Tottenham, Inter Milan, and PSV Eindhoven. This is probably the strongest group in the whole Champions League, and none of the teams will be an easy opponent.
I intend to pass on Messi and look at some of the other players out there.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus, 7.50
Cristiano Ronaldo is the top scorer in the history of the Champions League, and he was the man who found the net the most times last season. He did so in the season before. And the one before, too.
In fact, when I went back as far as 2011-2012, his name was on top of the list almost every time. Ronaldo loves this tournament and has the confidence to score loads of goals once again. The Portuguese forward is one of the more complex finishers you will ever see, as he can score with both feet and his head.
On top of that, he will certainly take the penalties and free kicks in Juventus. The side should reach the later stages of the Champions League, and they face Young Boys in the group stage.
The only real concern is that he is at another club and is struggling to find the net so far.
I wouldn’t be too worried, though, as Ronaldo has had similar short periods in the past, but they didn’t prevent him from scoring 40+ goals for 8 seasons in a row.
He might not reach exactly the same heights this year, but he will certainly score plenty of goals, and a price of 7.50 for him to become the UCL top scorer once again looks like a gift to me.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City, 8.50
The Argentinian striker of Manchester City is off to a flying start in the English Premier League and looks back to his best after a rather inconsistent season in 2017-2018. He is scoring for fun, and we all know that Aguero is one of the most lethal strikers in the world.
Another factor that works in his favor is that Man City is currently among the strongest sides in Europe. The team is expected to have a deep run this year, so Aguero will probably have a lot of chances to play and score goals.
However, I have my doubts about him on multiple levels. He is prone to injuries and might be rotated in some of the games, so this is a problem. On top of that, he is not always taking the penalties that Man City receives.
Finally, the group of the English side is not that easy. The likes of Shakhtar, Lyon, and Hoffenheim should all at least give City a fight.
If the price for Aguero was around the 10.00 mark, I would’ve probably considered picking him. However, it is 8.50, which is simply not high enough.
Mohamed Salah, Liverpool, 13.00
No one expected the rapid rise of Salah’s career last season. The Egyptian always seemed like a dangerous player, but his record in 2017-2018 was unbelievable, and he became the top scorer of the English Premier League.
He also found the net 10 times in the Champions League and was joint second in the final rankings. It’s curious that there were two other players with the same amount of goals – his teammates Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
I think this shows why picking a Liverpool player might be a bit risky. Unlike other teams, the Reds rely on all three of their attacking players. None of them might be considered as the main man, so the goals are spread rather evenly.
On top of that, Salah is not taking the penalties, and his side will have to face PSG and Napoli in the group stage. This is why I won’t be picking Salah. In fact, some of the other Liverpool players might be a better choice, as you will see below.
Neymar, PSG, 13.00
It’s natural to see Neymar’s name on this list, as the Brazilian is one of the most talented attacking players in the world right now. He left Barcelona to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi and become the superstar he feels he deserves to be.
I don’t think it’s quite happening up to this point, though. Sure, PSG won the domestic double with ease, and Neymar scored plenty of goals in the process. The problem is that the competition in France simply can’t compare with PSG.
PSG is EXPECTED to win the French league year in and year out. The main target of the club, however, is to win the UEFA Champions League. I’m pretty sure Neymar’s ambitions are the same, but the competition is much stronger in this tournament.
Neymar is not the only goal scorer at PSG, and both Cavani and Mbappe will get some goals, too. Neymar may be the superstar, but he is not as central as the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, or even Harry Kane. This could be an issue, as well as the fact that PSG is in a tough group with Napoli and Liverpool.
Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur, 15.00
After his performance in the past couple of years, Harry Kane is certainly one of the favorites to become a top scorer of any tournament he takes part in. The English forward won the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot this summer and was a close second behind Salah in the EPL last year.
A possible “problem” for Kane is that there are early signs that Lucas Moura will have a much stronger influence this season. While this will certainly help the Spurs’ cause, it could reduce Kane’s goal tally.
On top of that, Tottenham is in the worst possible group, with Barcelona, Inter, and PSV Eindhoven. This doesn’t look good, and while I can see the team reaching the knockouts, it won’t be an easy ride.
I don’t think Harry Kane will be this year’s UCL top scorer, and the price of 15.00 doesn’t convince me.
Other Interesting Options
The only one worth a short from the favorites, in my opinion, is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has done the job so many times that it would be foolish to underestimate his ability to find the net in the Champions League.
The other top players seem underpriced to me, but there are a couple of dark horses that represent a good opportunity. For a start, Real Madrid will have to make up for a lot of goals in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The side will face Roma, Viktoria Plzen, and CSKA Moscow, which provides a couple of easy games where Real could score plenty of goals. I think that both Gareth Bale and Benzema have the potential to step up their game.
The Frenchman has already scored 4 times in the Spanish La Liga, and the price for him scoring the most in the UEFA Champions League is 29.00. However, he had only 5 shots so far, so it has been more about efficiency.
Other players had more chances, and Gareth Bale is one of them. The Welsh forward had 11 shots on target so far and has scored 3 goals. He’s been lethal so far, and the price of 17.00 is not bad at all.
Another team that has a strong attack and a lot of potential is Liverpool. The Reds reached the final of the UCL last year and had 3 players with 10 goals at the end. Salah’s bombastic season made him too popular, which is the reason many people backed him and brought the price to only 13.00.
This is not good enough, especially if you can get Sadio Mane at 29.00 and Roberto Firmino at the insane 41.00. The early signs are that the trio will keep scoring for fun once again, and both players will have plenty of chances in the Champions League as well.
My Top Pick and Other Recommended Bets
When I go for outrights, I usually pick one of the favorites and one underdog that provides loads of value for the price offered. I’m struggling to separate a few options among some high-value underdogs here, though, so my main pick will just be for one of the favorites.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been consistently unstoppable in the UCL for several years now. I see no reason why that won’t continue now that he’s at Juventus.
I also recommend some smaller bets on the following players. The odds for them are simply too high to pass up on in my opinion.
I’m really excited about this season, as I feel the UEFA Champions League is wide open. Real Madrid will have to find a way to replace Ronaldo, as Juventus got him instead, while the likes of Liverpool and Man City will be keen to continue their progress.
At the same time, there are other traditional forces like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and even PSG.
This should also affect the top scorer market, as many players are in it with a chance. Who do you think will be the guy to find the net the most times in 2018-2019? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.
If you are interested, you can follow this link where I provide my picks for the UCL winner in this campaign.