The exploits of past Euros top goalscorers suggest playing for one of 2016’s perceived underdogs is no barrier to Gareth Bale becoming the tournament’s leading marksman.
Despite upsetting the odds to win Group B and then getting past Northern Ireland, Wales are 51/20 outsiders to get past Belgium into the semi-finals and 28/1 to lift the trophy.
However, cynicism over the principality’s ability to go deep hasn’t stopped bwin slashing odds on the Real Madrid forward being Euro 2016 top goalscorer from 33/1 pre-tournament to 6/1 ahead of the quarter finals, with only fellow leading scorer Antoine Griezmann shorter in the betting at 3/1.
Here’s why Wales don’t need to go deep for their hero to grab the gong…
A glance at the Euros campaigns of the 11 men to have claim outright top-scorer honours or a share of the accolade in the five 16-team tournaments between 1996 and 2012 shows that only three played in nations that reached the final.
Moreover, the same proportion failed to add to their tallies in either the semis or the decider, meaning, effectively, that all bar three needed a maximum of four appearances to plunder the strikes necessary.
Ten of the 11 outright or joint-top scorers across the last five tournaments had struck at least twice by the end of the group stage, suggesting that Bale is one of just five players in the top-goalscorer-chasing vanguard.
The Welshman also has a goal in his nation’s opener in common with seven of those 11, unlike Griezmann, fellow 6/1 shot Cristiano Ronaldo or 7/1 fourth favourite Romelu Lukaku.
Bale has already joined a rarefied group of some of the game’s elite goal-getters (and Milan Baros) by finding the net in each of his group games.
Of the five players to do so since 1996, only Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov (1996) and Ruud van Nistelrooy of the Netherlands (2004) didn’t go on to be that tournament’s leading scorer.
In the five editions that featured a four-team group stage prior to ’96, only one other player, Michel Platini, registered in each of their first three games.
The Frenchman went on to net in every one of Les Bleus’ five games en route to lifting the trophy, top-scoring the competition and setting a Euros finals goals record of nine goals that still stands today in 1984.