Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovich. These are the names that spring to mind when someone asks you who you’re most likely to have a bet on in the Champions League goalscorer markets this week. But at odds of 2/1, 11/5 and 16/5 to score first in their respective opening group games, you might be well worth having a look elsewhere.
Athletic Bilbao’s clash with Shakhtar Donetsk in Group H on Wednesday will hardly be top of the list of betting opportunities – especially when Bayern Munich are playing Man City and Chelsea face Schalke – but there is a hidden gem for eagle-eyed punters. 33-year-old Aritz Aduriz made his footballing debut in Spain in 1999, when Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5 was number one, and everybody was panicking about the Millennium Bug. Just 15 years, 476 league appearances and one international cap later and Aduriz has caught our eye as a very tempting 9/2 first goalscorer punt.
Like a fine wine, Aritz Aduriz appears to be getting better with age. In his first spell with Bilbao he scored just 22 goals in 82 league games between 2005 and 2008. However since rejoining the club in 2012 he has racked up 30 goals in 67 games – a pretty solid average of almost one in two. Now into the final year of his three-year contract this is likely to be his European swan song, and he could get it off to the perfect start against Shakhtar.
Aduriz scored 10 goals in his last 10 league appearances for Athletic Bilbao last season, and has kept up that red-hot run of form this campaign with three goals in his last three games – including a brace against Napoli in the Champions League playoff.
Bilbao moved to their new stadium, the San Memes, 12 months ago, and since then have lost just two league games – beating Barcelona and drawing with Real Madrid on the way. Their impressive home form means they will be the favourites against Shakhtar, and although Aritz Aduriz is closer to a pension than most, there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.