Why Sweden’s Marcus Berg will be the top goal scorer at the UEFA Under-21 championships

The summer football tournaments begin early next week with the start of the UEFA Under-21 championships as well as the World Cup warm-up that is the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Both these competitions offer a great opportunity to earn some cash and nowhere is there a greater chance of returns than in the top goalscorer odds for the Under-21 Championships in Sweden.

It looks like a relatively open field with some big names involved despite their tender years. Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic is the bookies favourite at 13/2, while Roberto Aquafresca (7/1), Mario Balotelli (8/1) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (9/1) are all strikers who could challenge for the prize.

All four are great up and coming strikers and barring injury should all enhance their reputations in Sweden. But the favourites are all constrained by the fact that they are likely to share the goals in well-rounded teams, rather than take the mantle as the main target striker.

There are a number of Spaniards who could score, including Newcastle’s Xisco (stop sniggering!), Jurado and Diego Capel. Similarly, England will also likely share the goals around with Theo Walcott, James Milner and even Keiran Gibbs, following his two-goal haul against Azerbaijan, expected to hit the back of the net.

Italy have probably the finest collection of strikers in the tournament (Aquafresca, Balotelli, Giovinco and Paloschi) and it is pretty difficult to pick one striker who will outshine the rest. To confirm this theory, the Azzurini beat their Danish counterparts 4-0 on Tuesday night with four different goal scorers. (Watch here.)

Looking at the other strikers in the tournament, it would take a brave punter to back any of the forwards playing for Finland, Belarus or Serbia whilst Germany’s best hope, according to our pals at 888, is Wolfsburg winger Ashkan Dejagah – Dejagah only scored three goals in 34 games as the Wolves clinched the Bundesliga title last season.

So we are left with hosts Sweden, who possess one of the most talented young goal scorers in European football in FC Groningen’s Marcus Berg – priced at ludicrous odds of 25-1.

Berg is a classic poacher in the mould of Gary Lineker and Gerd Muller, who has a scoring record to justify his budding reputation. Last season proved prolific once more, Berg scoring 22 goals in 35 goals for FC Groningen in the Eredivisie.

Like all true goalscorers Berg is also prone to score a hatful in one game. During the 2008/2009 season, Berg twice scored a brace, as well as a hat-trick and a four-goal haul against Roda. Crucially, Berg is also playing for a move with some big clubs in Holland (Ajax and AZ Alkmaar) after his signature after he rejected a new deal at Groningen. If he plays well and scores goals in the Under-21 Championships, a move to a bigger league is almost assured.

Besides his undoubted finishing qualities there are also a number of other reasons to back Berg, alongside the attractive odds. First off Sweden are the hosts, and with a 12th man behind them they should progress from Group A which includes Belarus and Serbia. If the Swedish striker bags a brace or more against Belarus or Serbia, the bookies could well be paying out a load of cash.

Sweden also have a side brimming with young talent that should provide Berg with the necessary ammunition. Midfielders Rasmus Elm and Pontus Wernbloom should provide the assists from midfield whilst strike partner Ola Toivonen (also 25/1 to finish top goal scorer) is a physical presence up top who will give Berg the room to strut his goalscoring stuff.

Of course, betting on top goal scorers has a large element of risk, injury or poor form can hit any player, even if their name is Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. The bottom line though is that the bookies are seriously undermining the goalscoring prowess of Marcus Berg and you can make a nice tidy profit.

You’re welcome…

101gg predicts: Marcus Berg to finish as top goal scorer in the UEFA Under-21 Championships (25/1)

Full top goalscorer odds for the Under-21 Championships can be seen here.

Full odds on who will win the Under-21 Championships can be seen here.