A Ciro Immobile hat-trick on Sunday for Lazio against Verona means the Italy striker has drawn level with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski in the race to be crowned Europe’s top goal scorer.
Both players now have 34 goals but Immobile still has two games to play against Brescia and Napoli. Lewandowski’s Bundesliga season is already over. However, the tiebreaker is based on the ratio of goals scored per minute played and in the event of a tie that includes the Poland international, Lewandowski would win.
The Bundesliga has 34 games per season and Lewandowski played in 31. Serie A plays four more matches each season and so far, Immobile has appeared in 35 games missing only one on account of a yellow card suspension.
After Lewandowski had played in the last Bundesliga game of the season on June 27, he enjoyed what seemed to be a comfortable lead. Immobile was 7 goals behind and Ronaldo 11 behind.
Immobile had made an impressive start to the 2019/20 season with 25 goals from the first 22 Serie A games – two goals more than the Poland striker. However, goals stopped flowing freely and it looked like his chance had gone. That is until 5 goals in the last three matches resurrected his drive for the Golden Boot.
Not for the first time in his career Cristiano Ronaldo started slowly with just 5 goals in his first 10 Serie A games. Then, the afterburners kicked in with 26 goals coming in his last 22 games. His latest goal came in a 2-0 win over Sampdoria that clinched Juventus’ 9th consecutive Serie A title. However, Ronaldo will regret a golden chance to add another goal after missing a late penalty kick that struck the crossbar.
Immobile and Ronaldo are also involved in another scoring battle – to score more goals in a top-flight Italian season than any other player. The record is 36 goals in a season held by Gino Rossetti for Torino in 1928–29 and Gonzalo Higuaín for Napoli in 2015–16. Three players Ferenc Hirzer, Julio Libonatti and Gunnar Nordahl each scored 35 goals.
Each season, whenever the topic of Europe’s Golden Boot pops up, the issue of penalty kicks and whether they should be included in the rankings generates much debate. Some have even suggested that goals scored from penalty kicks should be weighed differently – perhaps half of the points given for a goal from open play.
Here is the top three players and their number of goals scored from penalty kicks.
- Robert Lewandowski; 34 goals, 5 from penalties
- Ciro Immobile; 34 goals – 14 from penalties
- Cristiano Ronaldo; 31 goals – 12 from penalties
The Golden Boot – or Soulier d’Or from the original French – was first awarded by L’Équipe in the 1967/68 season. The first winner was the great Eusébio who scored 42 league goals for Benfica.
Up until the 1991 season the award was given to the player scoring the most goals in a top-flight European league irrespective of the quality. From the 1991/92 season, goals have been weighted based on the strength of the league – 2 points for the top leagues; 1.5 points for mid-level; 1 for the weakest cousins. For the 1996/97 season the award was taken on by European Sports Media.
Lionel Messi has finished as Europe’s top goal scorer a record 6 times – 3 times between 2011 and 2013 and the last 3 seasons. If Cristiano Ronaldo can somehow finish top this season, it will be his 5th title have won it in 2007/08 with Manchester United and 3 times with Real Madrid – 2010/11 (shared), 2013/14, and 2014/15.
Should Immobile win the Golden Boot he would become only the third Italian to finish as Europe’s top scorer. In 2005/06, Luca Toni scored 31 goals for Fiorentina and Francesco Totti recorded 26 goals the following season.
Only one English player has ever won the award – Kevin Phillips took the prestigious title with 30 goals for Sunderland in 1999/2000. Thierry Henry of Arsenal led all scorers in 2003/04 and then shared the award the next season.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2007/08) for Manchester United and Luis Suarez (2013/14) for Liverpool complete the Premier League’s 5 wins. Ian Rush of Liverpool and Wales won the award in 1983/84 when the top-flight in England was the First Division.