Can anybody usurp Haaland for Champions League Golden Boot?

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

April 1st, 2021

A very strong Champions League group stage performance saw Erling Haaland jump out to a sizeable lead in the race for the competition’s Golden Boot. However, while he added four goals in their Round of 16 fixtures against Sevilla, his lead currently sits at only four over Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe.

Top Goal Scorer Odds

Erling Haaland
Robert Lewandowski
Kylian Mbappe

With Haaland and Borussia Dortmund drawing Manchester City in the Round of 8, meaning he likely has just two matches remaining in the competition, is there a realistic chance for Lewandowski or Mbappe to close the gap?

Let’s break down how the race may play out, and help you decide if you should take a flyer on a potential big payday.

Mbappe is on a tear

There may not be a hotter player in Europe right now than Mbappe, who has taken over in the absence of Neymar to help put Paris Saint-Germain on his back. In his last seven matches for the club, Mbappe has found the back of the net in five of them, accounting for 10 goals in that span. This includes a hat trick in the first leg away to Barcelona in the Round of 16, essentially putting the tie out of reach for the trip back to Paris.

After scoring just two goals in the group stage, Mbappe’s four goals helped him maintain the four-goal gap between he and Haaland through the Round of 16. Now, the French forward will square off against a Bayern Munich side that has not been their usual dominant selves on the defensive side of the ball. In their last eight matches across domestic and continental play, they’ve kept just one clean sheet.

Lewandowski injury likely rules him out

Lewandowski was injured over the weekend, suffering a knee injury while playing for Poland. As such, he is going to miss out on both matches, and while Bayern are still a very talented squad, it will be tougher for them to get past PSG. If they do, he should be good to go for the semifinals and potentially a final. However, looking ahead, Bayern would likely square off with either Chelsea, Manchester City, or Liverpool in the next round.

Two of those three sides have extremely stingy defenses, and given he would miss the quarterfinals he would be looking to make up at least four goals. While he can score in bunches, evidenced by scoring in each of his last 10 matches for club and country, getting four or more in the semifinals would be a tough ask—if Bayern even get that far.

Haaland may not score against City

Speaking of Manchester City, Haaland and Dortmund had the unfortunate draw of getting the most dominant team in Europe at the moment. Manchester City have kept 14 clean sheets in their last 22 matches, but more impressively in eight Champions League matches this season they have conceded just one goal. That goal came all the way back on Matchday 1, in a 3-1 victory over Porto.

Haaland began the season on an absolute rampage, and while he continues to score a fair amount of goals, he’s no longer a guarantee to find the net every time out. In three matches for Norway this past week on international duty, Haaland took 13 shots and did not score once. This comes after scoring a brace in four of his last seven matches for Dortmund, including the four against Sevilla. The other three matches, he failed to find the scoresheet.

Who should you bet on?

Haaland’s tally of 10 goals may not grow any further, unless he can do something that no other player, save one, has been able to do to the Citizens in Europe this year. If he cannot add to his total, it opens the door for Mbappe and Lewandowski.

For me, the injury to Lewandowski’s knee could give PSG the advantage in their tie. If they are to advance, Mbappe will play a key role, and it could lead to him winning the Golden Boot. Even if Bayern win, Lewandowski missing out two entire matches hurts his chances severely.

Even if PSG fall to Bayern, Mbappe showed against Barcelona that he can score in bunches, and he will cause problems for the German champions. With Neymar’s return to the fold, I like their chances to spring the upset, giving him at least two more matches to add to his total. With a nine-to-one payout, Mbappe is absolutely worth taking a flier on to win the Golden Boot in this year’s Champions League.