England’s Harry Kane comes into Euro 2020 as the favourite in the football betting for the Golden Boot after he topped the scoring charts in qualifying with 12 goals.
Kane looks a formidable favourite on paper, given that he was also the top scorer at the 2018 World Cup and claimed his third Premier League Golden Boot award last month.
It’s worth noting, however, that the top scorers in European Championship qualifying tend to struggle when they reach the tournament proper.
At the five tournaments since Euro 2000, the top qualifying goalscorers have scored a combined total of just two tournament goals, with Raul in 2004, Ebi Smolarek in 2008 and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in 2012 all failing to get on the scoresheet completely.
That may just be a statistical quirk, and Kane looks very likely to net at least once or twice at this year’s tournament, but it’s clear that bagging plenty in qualifying is no real indication that a player is set for the Golden Boot.
One factor that is clearly important, however, is a player’s involvement in the latter stages of the competition.
Since the Euros expanded to 16 teams in 1996, nine of the 12 players who have finished top or joint-top of the scoring charts reached at least the semi-finals of the competition.
The last three Golden Boot winners – Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres and David Villa – all won the tournament, so you should limit your search to players whose teams have a genuine chance of being crowned champions.
Someone like Robert Lewandowski can be ruled out as he looks unlikely to go deep into the competition with Poland, while it’s worth being cautious with players from France, Portugal and Germany, as being drawn together in Group F means their route to the final is particularly tricky.
The runners-up in that group could easily need to beat England at Wembley, Spain and then the Netherlands to reach the final.
The same rule can be applied to Kane, too, given that a meeting with any of the Group F heavyweights in the Round of 16 could easily be the end of his tournament.
A few teams have easier looking paths to the final, but they aren’t all blessed with major contenders for the Golden Boot.
Spain have produced the top goalscorers at two of the last three Euros, and Alvaro Morata is the player most likely to lead the line for them at Euro 2020 in a group that also features Sweden, Poland and Slovakia.
Morata is coming off a decent season for Juventus in which he scored 20 goals in 44 matches, but his international strike rate of 19 goals in 40 caps isn’t comparable to the elite strikers in this competition.
He’s also not guaranteed to keep his place in the side after he was jeered following a 0-0 draw with Portugal last Friday.
Italy have a favourable draw against Turkey, Wales and Switzerland in Group A, so Ciro Immobile is worth a glance, but although he has an incredible scoring record for Lazio, he has netted just 13 goals in 46 internationals.
No Italian has ever won the Golden Boot at the Euros and that is unlikely to change this summer as the 31-year-old Immobile would be the oldest Golden Boot winner since 1992.
The best candidate looks to be the current second favourite: Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku .
The Inter Milan striker has an incredible record for his country, with 60 goals in 93 international appearances. Since 2016, he has scored 49 goals in 51 matches for Belgium.
The 28-year-old is also coming off a fantastic season for the Italian champions in which he scored 30 goals, including 24 in Serie A.
Lukaku was the second-highest scorer at the 2018 World Cup as Belgium reached the semi-finals, and it would be no surprise if they go far in this tournament given their draw.
Up against Denmark, Russia and Finland in Group B, Lukaku may score plenty before his side even reaches the knock-out stages. Should they win the group, Belgium will face a third-place team in the Round of 16, with Italy their likeliest opponents in the quarter-finals.
That path, along with his scoring prowess at this level, makes Lukaku the best bet of the tournament.
If you’re looking for an each-way bet at a slightly bigger price, Memphis Depay is a solid option, having scored 17 goals in his last 26 international matches.
Depay will play up front for a Netherlands team that faces perhaps the easiest route to the latter stages of any side. They will play Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia in Group C, and if they finish top, they won’t play another group winner until the semi-finals.