Cristiano Ronaldo for La Liga golden boot?

By Online Editorial
(Photo: José Porras)

(Photo: José Porras)

Eto’o may be gone but the world’s finest attacking talents flooded into Spain during the summer and, as a result, there are plenty of strong candidates to be La Liga’s top scorer.

Last year Diego Forlan scored a staggering 32 goals for Atletico Madrid to top the Pichichi charts, closely followed by Samuel Eto’o with 30.

Atletico reached fourth place last year but they’ve had a terrible start to the season with one win in six games. Despite bags of goals, Eto’o packed his bags and headed for Milan to be replaced by Zlatan Ibrahimović, the one striker in Europe with a bigger ego, but can he score more goals than his predecessor?

With Eto’o gone and Forlan floundering, who is likely to be La Liga’s top gun? Madrid’s new stars have to be considered after Florentino Perez single-handedly attempted to end the global recession by injecting millions of Euros into the economy.

It would take a brave man to oppose Cristiano Ronaldo and he looks every bit the man to beat – he can be backed at 3.65 to top the scoring charts. It’s an incredible price for a midfielder beginning his first La Liga season under unprecedented media scrutiny (yes – even for Real Madrid).

The odds suggest that Ronaldo is good enough to overcome every obstacle on and off the pitch and English fans will be queuing up to back him after featuring in the top-three scorers charts in the past three seasons.

With five goals in six games Ronaldo’s odds will narrow further if he maintains his form but there are a few points to consider before making up your mind. At Manchester United Ronaldo took every penalty and the lion share of free kicks but at Madrid Kaka holds sway from the spot while free-kicks have to be divided between players – even Galácticos have to share occasionally.

Moreover, he was often used as a central striker at Manchester but this unlikely to happen at Madrid with Benzema, Raúl, Higuaín and Van Nistelrooy available. The question is can Ronaldo stay injury free and maintain his scoring ratio from open play?

Ibrahimović’s arrival at Barcelona gives him the chance to shine in a well-oiled machine but doubts remain about how prolific he is. The misgivings are well founded and I wouldn’t recommend backing him at 4.8. In Serie A he played for a dominant Internazionale team but, despite coasting to scudetto titles for the past four years, Ibrahimović only finished among the top three scorers for the first time last season. Ibrahimović will score goals but so would any decent striker playing for Barcelona. It’s not that he lacks talent but he’s no killer in front of goal.

Atletico may not be playing well but Forlan has to be considered a genuine contender after last season. You can back him at 17.5 which are pretty generous odds for a striker of his talents but I’d definitely avoid a nostalgic punt on Thierry Henry at 100.00. Henry was most effective playing at the central point of Arsenal’s attack. Now on the left wing he will get on the scoresheet but he’ll do well to score more than Lionel Messi on the opposite flank.

Messi creates and scores goals (23 goals and 11 assists last season) and he can be backed at 6.4 to top the scoring charts. Such a talent has to be considered seriously but perhaps the man to score more than Ronaldo will not play for Barcelona.

David Villa is ruthless in front of goal and looks great value at 4.9 while Louis Fabiano at 16.5 is another one to watch. Ultimately Valencia and Sevilla are unlikely to provide their star men with enough opportunities across a long season.

On reflection, Ronaldo is the man to back. Like Messi he’s a one-off but he seems more mature and consistent than his Catalan rival – crucially he’s more single minded in pursuit of personal achievement (no bad thing for a goalscorer) and will face defenders who have only watched him on TV to date. La Liga is learning quickly that Ronaldo is a rare genius and that Perez will get plenty of return on his £80m outlay.

Reproduced with permission from © The Sporting Exchange Limited


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