We look at the top six in the betting and make our own suggestion for an outside bet…
The fact that Real have perhaps the toughest group of any of the big guns offers some hope to his rivals that Ronaldo’s reign of being the competition’s top scorer could finally end after a five-season run. Although Apoel Nicosia are the obvious cannon fodder for Ronaldo, holders Real face stern tests against Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham.
But then you consider that last season Ronaldo had only two goals to his name before the quarter-final stage, after which he notched ten in five games as Real retained their title and the Portuguese star pipped Lionel Messi to the Golden Boot by bagging a brace in the final. He may have adapted his game, leaving some of the creative work to his underlings, but Ronaldo’s goalscoring rate continues at a frightening rate. Worryingly for Apoel, he is also champing at the bit this week having sat out Real’s last four domestic matches. Ronaldo could fill his boots at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Best price: 9/2
Barca and Messi have been wounded by Real and Ronaldo’s dominance, plus Neymar’s poaching at the hands of PSG. Not that you would know it from Barca’s start to the domestic season, nor Messi’s, with the talisman having scored five in his last two games.
As impressive as his hat-trick against Espanyol, his all-round performance was just as encouraging, with Messi seemingly keen to drag Barca out of the mire. With a new contract set to be inked anytime now, Messi knows he and his club have a point to prove and the early signs suggest he is keen to make it. Juventus provide formidable opposition in Group D, but Olimpiakos and Sporting Lisbon offer the 30-year-old the opportunities to move beyond 100 goals in the competition.
Best price: 11/2
The Poland striker has p*ssed off a few people at Bayern with his remarks over their transfer policy but another hat-full of goals will smooth things over in no time.
He will almost certainly get the chances. Despite exiting at the quarter-final stage last season, Bayern were bettered only by winners Real for shots attempted and shots on target. No side created more big chances, and against Celtic and Anderlecht in the group phase, that statistic is likely to be repeated.
Best price: 10/1
The Brazilian walked out on Barca to join PSG and establish himself as one of the world’s best out of the shadow of Messi. The Champions League Golden Boot would be a decent start down the road towards making that prospect a reality.
Neymar contributed more assists than anyone else in last season’s competition but the 25-year-old will be hoping to be the one on the end of the chances PSG will certainly create against the likes of Celtic and Anderlecht. So too, though, will Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, though a shoot-out between the three PSG attackers could push Neymar on to great things.
Best price: 12/1
Like Messi, Suarez is looking to step up and cover for Neymar’s absence. He looked rusty upon his return from injury ahead of schedule for Saturday’s clash with Espanyol but the Uruguay star still found the net in the 5-0 romp.
Suarez netted only three in the competition last season – a haul matched by Arsenal flop Lucas Perez – and reports suggest new coach Ernesto Valverde remained unconvinced by the forward. But Neymar’s departure and Barca’s struggle to recruit any striker other than Ousmane Dembele means Suarez is as important to Barca as he has been at any juncture since moving from Liverpool three years ago.
Best price: 14/1
Cavani may have been shoved out of limelight by Neymar and Mbappe but the Uruguay star was on fire last season and he has begun the new campaign in similar vein.
The reigning Ligue 1 Player of the Year has followed 35 domestic goals and eight Champions League strikes – only Messi and Ronaldo scored more – by netting in every Ligue 1 match so far this season, raking in seven goals in five matches. Although his two new expensive team-mates might hog the headlines, they will also create even more opportunities for Cavani. With PSG serious about going all the way, they need him to be as efficient with those chances as he was last term.
Best price: 14/1
Outside bet: Gabriel Jesus
The Manchester City striker has begun the season in fine form, after Pep Guardiola expressed his initial unhappiness at his strike duo’s profligacy following the wins over Brighton and Bournemouth, as well as the draw with Everton. Guardiola is keen to crowbar both Jesus and Sergio Aguero into his XI and with City desperate to impress on the European stage, any failure won’t be down to a lack of goals, rather an inability to close the door at the other end.
You can currently get 40/1 on Jesus finishing top scorer, with the best price anywhere on Aguero being 25/1. As Guardiola has shown before, if he has to choose between his centre-forwards, then Jesus will almost certainly get the nod.
Best price: 40/1