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Lionel Messi a Heavy Favorite to Claim La Liga’s Pichichi Trophy

Leo Messi
Leo Messi is working back from his injury for Barcelona. Photo from @LaSenyera (Twitter)
  • Six-time Pichichi winner Lionel Messi opens season at -175 after leading La Liga in scoring in each of the past three years.
  • Messi’s Barcelona teammate Antoine Griezmann is second favorite at +900, following a summer move from Atletico Madrid.
  • Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is the shortest non-Barcelona player at +1000.

Spain’s La Liga kicked off last weekend with some shocking results: Barcelona succumbed to Athletic Bilbao up north, while newly-promoted Granada scored a wild 4-4 draw away from home at Villareal.

Goals came fast and furious, just not in the games (Bilbao-Barça, Valencia-Sociedad) many expected.

Wins for the likes of Valladolid (away at Betis), along with newcomers Osasuna (at Leganes) and Mallorca (vs. Eibar) point to there being more parity in La Liga this year.

That parity likely won’t translate to the goalscoring race, which has been won by Messi in each of the last three seasons.

2019-20 La Liga Pichichi Trophy Winner Odds

Player 2018-19 Goals Moneyline Odds at Bovada
Lionel Messi 36 -175
Antoine Griezmann 15 (at Atletico) +900
Luis Suarez 21 +1000
Karim Benzema 21 +1000
Eden Hazard 16 (at Chelsea) +1400
Luka Jovic 17 (at Frankfurt) +1400
Alvaro Morata 11 (incl. Chelsea) +1600
Iago Aspas 20 +3300
Maxi Gomez 13 (at Celta) +3300
Diego Costa 1 +4000

Odds taken on 08/21/19

Before we go into detail, let us stress this: Messi has scored at least eight goals more than any other player currently in La Liga in every season since 2015-16.

Outside of his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez, no current La Liga player has come close to matching him since Diego Costa finished one shy (27 to Messi’s 28) in 2013-14.

The Favorite: Leo Messi (-175)

The only reason the odds on Messi are so close is due his pre-season injury.

Barça’s legendary Argentine has come to embody everything fans love about the team — free-flowing, technically beautiful soccer — but has not trained with the squad since suffering an injury early in pre-season.

He is back and training apart from the main squad, as evidenced by recent social media posts, but it remains to be seen when he’ll be incorporated again.

Regardless, Messi will once again be the guy up front for Barcelona which is why he is such an overwhelming favorite ahead of anybody else.

The Challengers: The Big Two

If Messi is out for another few weeks or suffers an injury later in the season — not an impossible prospect for a 32 year-old — then the competition opens up.

Where problems arise for bettors thinking about a play on this prop, however, is distribution: Real Madrid has three legitimate stars in Benzema, Hazard and Jovic, and each will cannibalize the other’s production.

Even Barcelona without Messi poses a similar problem, as Griezmann and Suarez will hurt each other’s goal totals.

Factoring in lengthy European runs and rest-friendly schedule situations for both, and it’s easy to see why any of these plays would be very risky.

The Play: Magical Messi

If Messi is relatively healthy this season, he is the automatic play on this prop.

The Argentine has appeared in at least 30 of 38 league games every season since 2008-09, and has bagged 30-plus goals consistently over the past decade.

Don’t overthink this one: Take the magical Messi at a decent return while you still can.

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