Norwegian sensation Haaland has averaged around a goal a game since arriving at Borussia Dortmund, and his prolific scoring rate with RB Salzburg and Norway shows he can score goals in different teams with a differing level of quality around him. The 21-year-old has pace, power and a voracious appetite for personal improvement. Despite his numbers, he always thinks he can get better. Haaland has scored an incredible 20 Champions League goals in just 16 appearances (he was the competition's top scorer last term with 10, and given the fact that Dortmund have a fairly straightforward group (Besiktas, Sporting and Ajax), there's a good chance that scoring rate will at least be maintained.
Although the Polish predator is now 33, there's an argument to say that Robert Lewandowski is in the form of his life. He broke Gerd Müller's long-standing single-season scoring record in the Bundesliga last term, rattling in 41 top-flight goals for Bayern. He has reached the mark of 300 goals for Bayern in all competitions, and two seasons ago he was the UCL's top scorer with 15 goals. In his last nine Champions League campaigns, he has netted at least five goals every time, and at least eight in five of those seasons. Bayern should dominate their group games against Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica, and a shaky Barcelona defence should cough up chances, so Lewandowski could have a strong group stage.
When Romelu Lukaku described himself as one of the world's top five strikers, it wasn't misplaced bravado, it was merely a supportable statement of fact. The Belgian was already a proven goalscorer when he arrived in Italy to play for Inter, but in two years under the guidance of Antonio Conte, he went up a level. That improvement tempted Chelsea to bring him back to Stamford Bridge, and he has already made a strong start for a team that is poised to challenge at home and abroad. It's worth remembering that Lukaku didn't play in the UCL until 2017, so his relatively modest haul in the competition is misleading. More instructive is the scoring rate in the Champions League, with Lukaku averaging a goal every other game.
Messi-mania has well and truly gripped Paris, and it's no surprise that PSG are seen as one of the favourites to win the Champions League. Messi has been top scorer in the UCL six times, and he has 120 goals in the competition, but there are question marks. With Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in the side, will the goals be shared around more than they were in Messi's time at Barcelona. Also, will coach Mauricio Pochettino actually find the right balance between defence and attack, and will a group including Manchester City, Leipzig and Club Brugge allow Messi to rack up group-stage goals?
The Champions League's top goalscorer of all time is always going to be part of this conversation, and Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United has generated plenty of buzz already. Ronaldo has topped the scoring charts seven times in the UCL, although he didn't do so during his three-year spell with Juventus. The Turin giants suffered early exits in each of the last two campaigns, and after United crashed out in the group stage last term, there have to be questions over just how far Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can take the Red Devils in this competition.
Whether Real Madrid's attempts to sign Kylian Mbappe in August were serious, or merely theatre to convince the player of how much they rate him, the French speedster is staying at PSG for one more season. There has been no sign of sulking, with Mbappe actually sparkling so far in Ligue 1. However, my concern over backing Mbappe in this market is similar to my view on Messi. Paris are in a relatively tough group, and Mbappe will play alongside Messi and Neymar. Messi will likely take the penalties, and it's worth noting that Mbappe has never been top scorer in the Champions League.
After Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid, Karim Benzema was able to take on a more prominent role, and it's fair to say that outside Luka Modric he is Real Madrid's most influential player. The French international is fourth on the all-time list of UCL scorers with 71 goals, and last term he scored six goals in ten Champions League matches. With Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff as potential whipping-boys in the group stage, there's scope for Benzema to make a rip-roaring start.
As the "King of Egypt" moves into the final two years of his contract at Liverpool, these are nervy times for Reds fans. Mo Salah has looked razor-sharp so far in the Premier League, and remains Liverpool's most effective attacking threat. Although he has secured a top-scorer's trophy in the PL, Salah has never topped the UCL charts. Salah has certainly been consistent in recent seasons (he has 25 goals in his last 43 Champions League apps), but a tough group (Atletico Madrid, Milan and Porto) is a concern when considering this market.
The arrival of Lionel Messi in Paris was something his good friend Neymar really wanted, which is ironic when you consider that the Brazilian's main motivation for swapping Barcelona for PSG was to escape the great man's shadow. Neymar hasn't been able to inspire PSG to Champions League glory (although he has come mighty close), and although Messi's arrival enhances his chances of winning European football's biggest prize, it might bring down his personal goal and assist tallies. Neymar has never scored more than six UCL goals in one season for Paris, and he hasn't hit double figures since 2015.
Manchester City's failure to recruit Harry Kane this summer could end up benefiting Spain's Ferran Torres. The exit of club legend Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus' ongoing conversion from striker to winger means that former Valencia star Torres could find himself starting plenty of games at the heart of City's forward line. The 21-year-old has already scored two goals in his first three PL matches, and he scored four goals in six UCL matches last term.
It's a rather daunting task to fill the void left by Lionel Messi, but Memphis Depay will give it a damn good go at Barcelona. The former Lyon forward is in superb form for Barca and the Netherlands, and he is a firm favourite of Barca coach Ronald Koeman. It's also worth noting that Memphis is an excellent penalty taker. Barca's group isn't easy, but if the chaotic Catalan club is going to do anything in this competition, Memphis will be at the heart of it. I'd recommend him as an each-way play on the Sportsbook.
When you find yourself in the statistical company of Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, you know you must be doing something right. By scoring the winner against Wolves, Mason Greenwood became only the second teenager in Premier League history to score in the first three games of a top-flight campaign. However, it remains to be seen whether Greenwood will find himself elbowed aside by Cristiano Ronaldo, and what happens when Marcus Rashford returns from injury?
Liverpool were desperate for a genuine rival to their famous front three, and in Jota, they have found the perfect solution. The Portuguese international has sparkled for club and country since arriving from Wolves, and he provides cover and competition for Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah. Last term, Jota scored nine goals in 19 PL games, and found the net four times in the Champions League. The question is whether he will get enough game time to be a contender in this market.
After shoulder surgery, Marcus Rashford isn't expected to return to action until October at the earliest, and it remains to be seen what impact the return of Cristiano Ronaldo will have on his game time. That said, Rashford scored six goals in six games in the Champions League last term, and that was in a tough group that included RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain. Given that he's also been in double figures in each of his last three PL campaigns, his pedigree as a goalscorer can't be doubted.
After a frustrating and ultimately unrewarding spell at Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann is back at Atletico Madrid, and ready to help defend the La Liga crown and try to make progress in the Champions League. The French international should be a regular starter for Diego Simeone's side, but he isn't short of rivals, with Matheus Cunha, Joao Felix and Angel Correa all pushing for starts too alongside veteran Luis Suarez. Griezmann has never scored more than seven goals in a UCL campaign, and that was back in 2016.
England's run to the final of EURO 2020 was largely built on solid work without the ball and a safety-first approach, and it was left to players like Raheem Sterling to deliver the stardust. Fortunately for England, the Manchester City star did that consistently, with his dangerous darting runs a constant threat. Sterling has banged in 65 goals across the last four Premier League seasons, and the failure to replace Sergio Aguero with a centre-forward might see Sterling get more goalscoring chances.
Juventus haven't made the best of starts to the season under returning coach Max Allegri, but a kind UCL draw hasn't done them any harm. Yes, Chelsea will be the team to beat in the group, but it would be a major shock if Zenit or Malmo finished above the Bianconeri. Alvaro Morata had a mixed EURO 2020, but he has started both Serie A matches this term, and last season he banged in six goals in eight UCL matches. With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, Morata has the chance to establish himself as Juve's go-to guy in attack.
The return of Carlo Ancelotti to Real Madrid could potentially give Gareth Bale a new lease of life in the Spanish capital. The Welshman's cold war with Zinedine Zidane can be forgotten about, and Ancelotti's love of experience means Bale should get plenty of starts if he stays fit. His recent match-winning hat-trick for Wales against Belarus was a reminder of his ability to deliver under pressure, and he has already scored in La Liga this season.
It's fair to say that Serge Gnabry's excellent level of performance dipped slightly last season. Although he still netted ten Bundesliga goals, he didn't score at all in the Champions League, having hammered in nine UCL goals as Bayern won the tournament in 2020. There are signs that the German international is on the rise once more - he already has two Bundesliga goals in three matches, and he has looked sharp for Hansi Flick's Germany. Lewandowski will always be the main goalscoring threat while he's a Bayern player, but Gnabry has shown he can get in on the act too.
After he fired unfashionable Lille to a shock Ligue 1 title win last season, Burak Yilmaz was rightly hailed as one of European football's big success stories. The 36-year-old scored 16 times in the French top flight to help Les Dogues defy PSG, but football changes quickly, and life at Lille isn't so rosy. Coach Christophe Galtier has defected to Nice, key midfielder Boubakary Soumare has gone to Leicester City, and keeper Mike Maignan (surely the best keeper in France last season) went to Milan. Lille have been drawn in a group featuring Wolfsburg, Salzburg and Sevilla, which is probably the most wide-open section of the tournament.
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