Who will nab the Euro 2016 Golden Boot?

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Thomas Muller (2)Six players scored three goals in the Euro 2012, with notable names Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres and Mario Gómez headlining the list. Four years later, the odds of the eventual Golden-Boot winner notching more than three goals is much greater.

The biggest supplement to this idea is the increase in teams, which indicates that more games will be played. The Euros has expanded to 24 squads, creating six groups comprised of four teams in the opening rounds.

Evidently, the top attackers on the most successful teams have the highest odds of winning the Golden Boot.

With Germany looking to continue its reign as world champions, striker Thomas Müller tops the list of potential victors. The Bundesliga third-leading scorer paces a potent German attack that scored 18 goals en route to a 2014 World Cup. Essentially the same core group returns for the Euros, but Mario Gómez, who tied for the scoring lead in the 2012 Euros, is slowing down. Müller has supplanted Gomez as the squad’s primary goal-scoring threat. Germany’s favourable pairing with Northern Ireland, Ukraine and Poland almost guarantees advancement into the Round of 16, barring any massive upsets.

Accompanying Müller as a popular candidate is Frenchman Antoine Griezmann. A budding star for Champions League runner-up Atletico Madrid, Griezmann broke out this club season, scoring 22 goals. Now, he will play the 2016 Euros in his home country.

France is a popular pick to win the tournament despite playing without striker Karim Benzema. Group A consists of Albania, Romania and Switzerland, Griezmann will excel as France’s prime goal-scoring option.

Yet another competitor to win the Golden Boot is on his squad. Oliver Giroud is a crafty goal-scorer who will line up alongside Griezmann.

As always, the usual suspects are included. Cristiano Ronaldo wrapped up another successful campaign with Real Madrid, as the Portuguese star finished second in goals in the La Liga.

Yet the question that has always plagued Ronaldo looms over the 31-year-old again: will he receive the necessary help from the supporting cast? The offense seemingly runs through the brilliant attacker, and against stifling defences, the Portuguese attack is predictable.

Ronaldo tied for the Golden Boot lead in the last Euros, however. Look for him to compete again as he attempts to win his first major international tournament.

Rounding out the list of popular picks is Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, Spain’s Diego Costa, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and England’s Harry Kane.

Belgium are the top-ranked European team in the updated world rankings, and its group pairing is favourable. Lukaku is fresh off a breakout season with Everton, but he has indicated he wants to leave. His performance in the Euros could serve as an audition for potential suitors on the club scene.

England has a slew of worthy attackers, with Kane leading the pack. The leading scorer in the Premier League, Kane will have his first opportunity to showcase his talents on a world-class international stage.

However, past tournaments have shown that a dark horse could emerge. James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot in the 2014 World Cup.

Gareth Bale could be this tournament’s Rodriguez. Bale is one of the world’s best players, stuck on an inexperienced team. But if Wales can advance to the knockout stages, the winger could emerge.

Soon we shall see. The Euros will officially kick off on Friday, June 10.

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