The Golden Boot winner at a European Championships can come out of left-field – step forward Milan Baros – or he can be staring you right in the face – hello David Villa – and there is plenty to tempt backers of both possibilities at Euro 2012.
Most intriguingly of all perhaps is that the outright favourites for the tournament Spain head to Poland and the Ukraine without a clear idea of who their starting forward will be, and so that opens up even more options on what is always a popular market.
The outright favourite with every firm is Germany’s Mario Gomez (best priced 9/1 Paddy Power), the prolific Bayern Munich striker who was once so out of form that he was even considering a loan move to Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool.
The 6ft 2ins 26-year-old oddly credits the resurgence in his game to the rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners in October 2010. Gomez – who wears the number 33 shirt for Bayern – claims that the incident showed him that there are more important things in life than football, and the newly carefree forward began finding the back of the net on a regular basis. He hasn’t stopped since.
He’ll be leading the line for many people’s tip for the tournament, but Germany backers should also keep an eye on the veteran Miroslav Klose (14/1 Betfred) who loves to shine on the big occasion and also Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (25/1 Bet365), the shock winner of the Golden Boot at the last World Cup. Mesut Ozil (66/1 Sportingbet) completes a deadly attacking four.
Away from the Germans, Holland’s Robin van Persie (10/1 Sportingbet) is sure to be a popular choice with many who’ve seen him score at will for Arsenal in the last Premier League season, and he’ll lead a Dutch line which also includes the rapid pace of Arjen Robben (50/1 Bet Victor).
The Spanish can’t be ignored forever though, and question marks over the fitness and form of their two most recognisable forwards Fernando Llorente (16/1 Betfred) and Fernando Torres (20/1 Paddy Power) does allow for some intriguing odds elsewhere in the squad.
Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente (22/1 Boylesports) and Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo (33/1 Boylesports) have all found the net with increasingly regularity both in the Spanish domestic game and in Europe, whilst followers of the Premier League will know all about the goal threat posed by the likes of Juan Mata (40/1 Bet Victor) and David Silva (40/1 Sportingbet) from further back.
Even with his two-match ban Wayne Rooney (40/1 Bet Victor) is likely to figure high in punters’ minds, especially those who are willing to back England to do well. It is tricky to see just where else the Three Lions’ goals will come from though, with Danny Welbeck (66/1 Sportingbet) and Steven Gerrard (80/1 Bet Victor) the only other likely lads.
The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (14/1 Paddy Power), Nani (66/1 Bet Victor), Karim Benzema (25/1 Bet Victor) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (66/1 Bet Victor) are all likely to be restricted either by the quality of their team-mates or by a tough group stage, but it is worth keeping an each-way eye on them and the Poland and Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski (50/1 Betfred), whose side have been placed in the weakest of the groups.
Those left-field choices could come in the form of Everton’s impressive Croatian Nikica Jelavic (100/1 Bet365), the veterans Robbie Keane (100/1 Bet Victor) and home boy Andriy Shevchenko (66/1 SkyBet), or maybe even the Czech Republic’s Baros again (100/1 Betfred), but it might just pay to stick to those favourites this time around.