With football betting fans gearing up for the start of the Copa America in the early hours of Saturday morning, bwin has announced its top scorer odds for the tournament.
There’s no surprise to see Lionel Messi listed as the 3/1 favourite after his stunning season for Barcelona, in which he smashed a whopping 53 goals in all competitions.
The little magician will certainly have a chance to get off to a flier when the hosts size up the fragile back line of Bolivia in their opener.
With home support and a burning desire to win the Copa America for the first time since 1993, it is hard to look past Messi weighing in with plenty of goals as Argentina push for the trophy.
But does he represent value at 3/1? Believe it or not, he has been criticised in his homeland in the past for not performing to the same level for La Albiceleste as he does for Barca.
A ridiculous suggestion on the face of it, but it is interesting to note that he has just 17 goals in 56 international appearances to date, which is modest by his sky-high standards.
Anyone who watched the World Cup will know that Messi generally looked lively but was often forced to drop far too deep to get the ball, thus reducing his goal threat.
And while the standard of opposition will be weaker at the Copa America, football betting fans could opt for an alternative selection at a price made longer by Messi’s presence in the market.
Even backing his team-mates Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain ,who are available at betting odds of 7/1 and 10/1 respectively, could be a more lucrative play.
Brazilian wonderkid Neymar is joint-second favourite with Tevez to be top scorer at 7/1, but Mano Menezes’ men are far more pragmatic than the Brazil teams of old and only managed three goals in their five matches prior to the Copa America.
Another interesting choice is Radamel Falcao of Colombia, whose goal-laden spell at Porto has attracted interest from some of the world’s biggest clubs.
The 25-year-old, who fired an all-time record 17 goals in the Europa League last term, is priced at a tempting 13/1, but should be avoided as Colombia are not renowned for their attacking prowess.
Which brings me to Uruguay and specifically Diego Forlan, who can be backed at a generous 16/1 with bwin. The former Manchester United star lit up the World Cup last year as his side upset the odds time and again to reach the semi-finals.
He scored an impressive five goals in South Africa to share the Golden Boot and was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, so he can be expected to cash in once again at the Copa America, particularly as he will be on free-kicks and penalties.
The one note of caution is that his form suffered last season amid the turmoil engulfing Atletico Madrid, but at the age of 32, he may well view the tournament as the perfect shop window for one last big move.
Furthermore, Uruguay are in a group with Chile, Peru and a severely depleted Mexico – none of whom are guaranteed to be solid at the back – and are unlikely to face Argentina or Brazil in the quarter-finals.
New bwin customers who use their £25 free bet for joining to back Forlan in the top scorer market would land £425 if he can pull it off.
A similar case can be put forward for his team-mate, Liverpool hitman Luis Suarez, whose movement and dynamite finishing will make him a real threat in Argentina. He is available at slightly shorter odds of 11/1.
Copa America betting enthusiasts looking for a longer-priced punt could get their money on Robinho, who was top scorer at the last tournament in 2007 as Brazil lifted the trophy.
Other interesting options include Brazil’s Alexandre Pato (12/1), attack-minded Chile’s main striker Humberto Suazo (19/1) and Paraguay’s Lucas Barrios, who has been banging them in for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga in the past couple of seasons.
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