Super Mario 11-4 to outshine Messi
LIONEL MESSI has won the last three Champions League Golden Boot awards but he faces a serious rival in his quest to make it four in a row this season.
Mario Gomez's opening strike for Bayern Munich in the 2-0 success at Marseille on Wednesday saw him move on to 11 goals for the tournament, one behind Messi with qualification to the semi-finals seemingly secured.
The German international is 11-4 in the Golden Boot market with Messi still the 1-3 favourite despite his Barcelona team being stifled in a goalless stalemate with Milan at the San Siro on Wednesday. Barca remain 5-4 market leaders to retain the Champions League and they are 2-9 to progress past the Italians.
It should be a two-man race for the top goalscorer award but Karim Benzema is five goals behind Messi and third in the market at 40-1 to eventually finish as the leading marksman.
Benzema could get in the hunt if he is selected to face minnows Apoel at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, although Jose Mourinho may decide to rest the Frenchman with Real Madrid leading 3-0 from the first leg.
The same applies to six-goal Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the only other man being quoted by bookmakers and is available to back at 50-1.
It would take a miracle for Madrid not to meet Bayern in the semi-finals with layers still expecting it to be an all-Spanish affair at the Allianz Arena.
A Clasico showdown between Barca and Madrid is as short as 10-11 with Hills and best at 11-10 with bet365, while a Bayern clash with the Catalans is available at 100-30 and Mourinho meeting his old club Chelsea can be backed at 6-1.
A Chelsea triumph – currently a 9-1 poke – would mean the Blues would automatically qualify for next season's Champions League and just three places would come via the finishing positions in the Premier League.
Therefore the race for third spot is even more crucial with Coral offering evens that Arsenal claim bronze with north London neighbours Spurs ending the term fourth.