Football

Champions League: Golden Boot contenders

Will Torres fire Chelsea to another Champions League? (©GettyImages)
Will Torres fire Chelsea to another Champions League? (©GettyImages).

The Champions League group stage kicks off this evening with Real Madrid versus Manchester City, and both teams possess some of Europe's best forwards, but who will emerge as the tournament's top scorer.

For the past four seasons Lionel Messi has scooped the award, and the Argentinian is the hot favourite to take home the title once again.

But there are plenty of contenders eager to knock him off his perch, not least perennial rival and Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Last season Messi hit a Champions League record 14 goals as part of his incredible 72-goal Barcelona campaign, and the South American star has picked up from where he left off this year.

So he'll be difficult to beat, but not impossible. Here are this year's contenders…

Lionel Messi - Barcelona

There's little to suggest the diminutive Argentinian won't be collecting a fifth consecutive Golden Boot award next season, despite the departure of Pep Guardiola.

Little seems to have changed since Tito Vilanova succeeded his former boss, least of all Messi's unerring accuracy in front of goal. The heavy favourite to retain his crown.

Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid

The 2007-08 Champions League top scorer is the most likely challenger to Messi, but the Portuguese forward has started the season poorly. His admission of "sadness" has thrown his future at the Bernabeu into doubt, and his performances, and those of his team, have suffered as a result.

But if resolved, expect Ronaldo to be towards the top of the scoring charts, especially if Real Madrid go deep in the competition, and the La Liga champions have targeted this year's tournament as their main aim.

Robin van Persie - Manchester United

The Dutchman has made a blistering start to his Manchester United career, scoring four goals in his two league starts. And Sir Alex Ferguson will be expecting Van Persie to carry that form into European competition.

A partnership with Wayne Rooney is mouthwatering, and Manchester United should be full of goals. With plenty of Champions League experience and a keen eye for goal, expect RVP to get more than his fair share.

Fernando Torres - Chelsea

The Chelsea striker insists he's put a difficult start to his Stamford Bridge career behind him, and he's made a promising start to the Premier League season.

Roberto Di Matteo lacks options up front, so Fernando Torres will need to be firing on all cylinders if Chelsea are to successfully defend their Champions League trophy.

Olivier Giroud - Arsenal

The Frenchman is yet to score for his new club, but if Arsenal are going to progress in the tournament they will need Giroud to fill the large Robin van Persie-shaped hole atop the Gunners formation. An unlikely contender, but Giroud's goalscoring record in Ligue 1 last season suggests he's got a chance.

Carlos Tevez - Manchester City

Just over a year ago in this very competition Carlos Tevez became the villain in the eyes of most Manchester City fans. 12 months on and all seems to be forgiven.

As such, the Argentinian, along with his compatriot Sergio Aguero, will be responsible for leading the line as City look to make more of an impression on this year's competition.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Paris St Germain

The former Barcelona and AC Milan forward is one of the most dangerous forwards in the competition. Unfortunately, he rarely hits top form in the Champions League.

At Paris St Germain he will be the main man. The French side have a tricky group - trips to Kiev and Zagreb will be stern tests - but if PSG are to progress Ibrahimovic will be scoring the goals.

Mario Gomez - Bayern Munich

Spearheading a front three boasting Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Gomez should get plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net.

And the German giants will be a huge threat this season, especially after last year's penalty heartache was made all the worse because they hosted it at their home stadium.

Robert Lewandowski - Borussia Dortmund

An outside bet for sure, but the Polish striker is more than capable of reaching double figures this season.

The Germain champions have an incredibly tough group, including Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City, but Lewandowski will be integral to their qualification.

Who do you think will win the Champions League Golden Boot? Join the debate by leaving a comment below...

Topics:
Robin Van Persie
Football
Arjen Robben
Carlos Tevez
Chelsea
Sergio Aguero
Fernando Torres
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo
Roberto Di Matteo
Wayne Rooney

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