Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine looks set to be a veritable goal fest – if the form being shown by some of Europe’s top strikers is anything to go by.
Schalke knocked FC Twente out of the Europa League last night by winning 4-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate and featured one of the possible forerunners for the golden boot.
Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a hat-trick in the game and took his season tally for the Dutch side to 37 goals in as many games, which is an astonishing record.
However, he is not alone being amongst the goals, as a number of other European hit-men expected at the finals are finding the net regularly.
The Bundesliga, where Huntelaar plies the majority of his trade, has another man who has been doing something similar – Mario Gomez.
The Bayern Munich striker has netted 34 times in 36 games, which isn’t quite as good as his Dutch counterpart but when we get to these levels of scoring there really shouldn’t be any quibbles over the odd extra goal or game.
Besides, the Germany international could quite easily catch up with Huntelaar in his next fixture, as there is another race going on between these two – the number of hat-tricks they can score in a single season for their respective clubs.
They are currently tied on five apiece, but at the rate they’re going it could end up close to double that – something that you wouldn’t put past another man doing.
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo leads the way for all European goal scorers and has hit six hat-tricks already this season.
The Real Madrid man is expected to be the star of the tournament this summer and could quite possibly be top scorer, if his 42 strikes in 39 games for Los Merengues is anything to go by.
He does, however, need to buck up his ideas when playing for Portugal, as he has only has a record of 32 in 88 – rubbish, no? Having Lionel Messi as a main rival and pacesetter for a domestic golden boot probably has something to do with it.
Going back to Huntelaar for a moment, we could have a situation whereby, after scoring a hatful of goals this season, the 28-year-old may not even get the nod up front for the Netherlands in their group stage opener against Denmark.
This is due to him currently being second in line behind another man who has a penchant for beating goalkeepers and has been doing so for about a year on levels similar to that of Ronaldo and Messi in Spain.
Robin van Persie has been saving Arsenal’s bacon almost single-handedly in the Premier League this season and has a record of 33 in 38 in all competitions for the Gunners – a record that is likely to win him the golden boot in the league.
It is an embarrassment of goal-getting riches for Holland and it seems maybe a bit self-restrictive to not tweak their system a touch to try and accommodate two of the most potent attackers in Europe at the moment.
One national side that do not boast much of an array in attacking verve are England, but they do have a man up front who has the capacity to make up for a lack of goals elsewhere.
Wayne Rooney is second in the Premier League goal table behind Van Persie, but his record is no less impressive at 27 in 32 appearances – it is actually a very similar striker rate.
Rooney’s chances in the Euro 2012 golden boot race will take a blow as he misses the first two group games due to suspension, but he is on fire at the moment and must surely be considered as one of the favourites.
With so many European strikers present and in great form, Euro 2012 should provide a more entertaining spectacle than the engaging but ultimately disappointing 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Spain were rightful winners but their dominance convinced many teams to adopt a more defensive and cautious system of play.
There is a hope that something similar won’t be happening in Poland and Ukraine, as with the amount of goals being scored around Europe this season defending clearly hasn’t been top of the agenda.
There is bound to be a raft of wagers placed on who will find the net most this summer and it is a welcome sight for the watching supporters who are hungry for a glut of goal feasts.
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