Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Euro 2012: The golden boot contenders

Mario Gomez (Germany)
Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez scored on his debut for Germany in 2007 against Switzerland. In the 51 games he's played since, he's notched an noble 21 goals. Yet his form in the big tournaments has failed to impress. Despite breaking up the tried and tested partnership of Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose at Euro 2008, he failed to score at the tournament, including a substitute appearance in the final against Spain. At the World Cup in South Africa, he was similarly useless - again failing to find the net even once. But this season he's been in startling form for his club side, scoring 26 goals in the league and an incredible 12 in Bayern's march to the Champions League final - and that's why we're backing the 26-year-old to break his tournament duck and then some at Euro 2012. If he doesn't, Germany can look to those trusted old hands Klose and Podolski to see them through.
Robin van Persie (Netherlands
) Robin van Persie was rightly named the Premier League player of the season - acknowledged for his feat of single-handedly dragging Arsenal to third in the table by scoring lots of goals, and quite a few spectacular ones. The Dutchman has never been on such a hot streak, owing much to his new found ability to steer clear of the treatment table, and he's a good bet to take that form to Poland and Ukraine. On the international stage he's scored 25 goals in 62 games. Included in that are four goals at Euro 2008 before the Dutch were eliminated early, although just a solitary goal at the last World Cup, despite the Dutch reaching the final. Van Persie's team-mate, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, is also a decent shout for the golden boot after topping the Bundesliga scoring charts with Schalke 04.
Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland)
If you said the MLS was nothing more than a league for part-timers and washed up old stars, Robbie Keane might have a thing or two to say about it. The all-time leading goalscorer for Ireland made the switch across the pond last year, but rather than putting his feet up, he's been putting them to good use banging in the goals. After scoring on his debut for LA Galaxy, he then helped take them to victory in the MLS Cup Final. He joined Aston Villa on loan in January and scored three in seven games. In qualification for Euro 2012, Keane scored seven - the same amount as David Villa and Cristiano Ronaldo. There's goals in Keane - but his chances of winning the golden boot will have much to do with Ireland's ability to emerge from a group that includes Spain, Italy and Croatia.

Euro 2012 kicks-off in just a matter of weeks and in anticipation the Belfast Telegraph will be running down the key factors and people to keep an eye on in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

From free-kick takers to WAGs, blasts from the past to the youngsters, we'll have it all covered before things kick-off in Warsaw.

Here, we bring you the golden boot hopefuls for Euro 2012. These are the players who look most likely to be at the top of the scoring charts come the end of the tournament.

^^Click 'More Pictures' to launch gallery^^

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