Rather appropriately on a day that sees the Eurovision Song Content take place, last weekend saw me score exactly ‘nul points’ with my Goalscorer Gamble predictions.
It’s a tricky time to make predictions in football, with many teams having nothing to play for and downed tools. So with time running out to end the season with a bang, it’s up to me to identify likely goalscorers with sufficient motivation to deliver.
For this reason we start, not in the Premier League as usual, but instead in the Championship play-off final. Middlesbrough take on Norwich and it’s the Canaries’ top scorer that we are interested in.
Cameron Jerome has scored 19 goals in the Championship this season. He didn’t end the campaign in the greatest of form but was back on target in midweek, scoring the crucial final goal as Norwich defeated Ipswich 3-1.
Jerome will go up against a Middlebrough defence with a good record. They have kept clean sheets in five of their last 10 games, but it’s a rare occasion that Norwich don’t score and Jerome looks overpriced at a likely price of [3.3] to find the net.
If Jerome is up against a tough defence in his play-off final, Preston’s Joe Garner looks to be facing easier opposition. In the League One showpiece, Garner and his Preston colleagues meet a Swindon side without a clean sheet in eight games.
Those eight games have seem them concede a whopping 19 goals. Five came in the thrilling 5-5 draw with Sheffield United that saw Swindon book their place in the final, while three came in a 3-0 loss to Preston in which Garner helped himself to a hat-trick.
In total Garner has 26 goals and we’re backing him to add to that tally with the first goal at probable odds of [6.0].
Over the border now, where two traditional heavyweights of the Scottish game meet in the second leg of their play-off semi-final. Hibs lost the first leg 2-0 to Rangers at Ibrox, but with the Championship’s top scorer in their team, will fancy their chances of getting back into the game.
Jason Cummings has scored 18 goals this season and at just 19-years old looks like a prospect to watch out for. Cummings has scored five goals from his last seven games and is value against a Rangers defence who had not kept a clean sheet in six games prior to doing so in midweek. Back him at [3.0] to find the target.
A big club that are in grave danger of slipping out of their top flight are Hamburg, who face Schalke today in a game that they simply must win to stand any chance of survival.
Hamburg have scraped together some form to give themselves a chance, losing only one of their last four games. The run has coincided with an unexpected flurry of goals from their Serbian midfielder Gojko Kacar.
Kacar has scored in each of Hamburg’s last three games. He’s never been a regular scorer for Hamburg but has posted decent tallies at previous clubs Hertha Berlin and Serbian outfit Vojvodina. Let’s take a punt on him to become the unlikely hero of the hour with the first goal at a likely price of [17.0].
We finish in Italy where Napoli travel to Juventus. The home side have already tied up the league and are now looking ahead to the Champions League final, which might make Napoli a decent bet to get something from this match.
After all, they are still in the hunt for a Champions League place and have an in-form scorer to help them do it. Manolo Gabbiadini has scored six goals in his last seven Serie A appearances to take his total for the season to 15. The 23-year old looks big at [4.0] to extend that total against a Juve side that have conceded in each of their last five games.
Best Bet: Back Jerome at [3.3] to score
Back Garner to score first at [6.0]
Back Cummings to score at [3.0]
Back Kacar to score first at [17.0]
Back Gabbiadini to score at [4.0]