As we edge closer to the start of the Champions League group stage, the footballing world is preparing for another season of the best teams in Europe battling it out for club football’s most prestigious trophy. In those teams are some of the world’s best players, and those superstars will all have a big role to play in the outcome of this year’s tournament, especially those strikers that will be tasked with scoring the goals that takes their respective clubs all the way.
It wasn’t a coincidence that last year’s winners Barcelona had two of the tournament’s top scorers in their side, with Lionel Messi and Neymar both scoring 10 goals to tie with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the Champions League leading goalscorer. All three players are expected to be competing for the award again this season, along with a number of other forwards more than capable of reaching double figures in this year’s tournament.
Here are some of the names you should expect to be in the race to top the goalscoring charts this season.
Lionel Messi: Not the boldest prediction out there but it would be a huge surprise if the Barcelona star wasn’t in the mix to finish as the Champions League’s top scorer for the sixth time in his career. Having reached double figures in European football on three occasions, Messi will definitely be targeting that feat again this year. Playing in a team priced at 3/1 with Betfair to defend their title, Messi could yet again hold the key to the Catalans’ hopes of retaining their Champions League crown.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Surprise, surprise, Ronaldo is probably/definitely going to be Messi’s main rival in the goalscoring charts in both domestic and European football. The four-time Champions League top scorer has racked up 70 goals in the tournament throughout his career, and his 10 last season was the fourth time he has reached double figures in a European campaign. While Real might have some work to do to convince punters they can go all the way this year, it’s never wise to write off a team containing Ronaldo.
Neymar: After something of a slow start to life in European football following his move from Santos, Brazilian superstar Neymar showed just what he is capable of last year, scoring 39 goals in all competitions for Barcelona, including 10 in the Champions League. Playing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, the striker knows chances are going to come his way, and on the evidence of last season it looks as though Neymar will convert the majority of them.
Robert Lewandowski: Something of an outsider, the Bayern Munich forward certainly has the tools to reach double figures in the Champions League this season. Having spent a prolific four seasons with Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich snapped up the Poland international on a free transfer when his contract at the Westfalenstadion came to an end. While his first season with Bayern might not have been as explosive as many expected, the 26-year-old sill recorded 25 goals in all competitions, including six in the Champions League.
Sergio Aguero: Another outsider, Aguero would almost definitely be among the favourites if he was playing for a team tipped to reach the latter stages of the tournament. City’s troubles in the Champions League have been highly publicised, but if they do finally manage to get it right in Europe then you’d expect their prolific forward to be a key reason behind it. While City only made seven appearances in the tournament last year, Aguero scored six goals and showed that he isn’t too far behind the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar.