Who Will Score the First Goal When European Soccer Returns?

  • Haaland a +175 favorite to score the first goal when European soccer resumes play
  • Neymar and Coutinho check in at +500 apiece
  • Bundesliga (Germany) and Ligue 1 (France) are favored to be the first leagues to return to action

Just about every major pro sports league in the world has been forced to hit the pause button on operations as a result of the spread of the coronavirus. That includes most domestic soccer leagues in Europe. There are a few minor exceptions, but the top leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France have all halted play until the pandemic starts to fade.

It was reported earlier this week that the 2020-21 English Premier League season will not begin until the 2019-20 campaign has officially come to a close. Some leagues may have to alter their rest-of-season schedules in order to fit as many games as they possibly can into a tighter window, but most believe soccer will return at some point over the summer. Here’s hoping.

Haaland a Heavy Favorite

Bovada has a fresh prop bet posted regarding which player will be the first to score a goal when play does resume, whenever that may be. Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, who had been on an absolute tear before the hiatus, is the odds-on favorite at +175. The full odds are as follows:

Player Odds at Bovada
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund) +175
Neymar (Paris St. Germain) +500
Philippe Coutinho (Bayern Munich) +500
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) +600
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) +600
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) +900
Edinson Cavani (Paris St. Germain) +1200
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) +1600
Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) +2500

Chances are good that none of the players listed above will actually be the first to score once European soccer resumes. It will probably be some random player, to be honest. Regardless, it’s still fun to ponder.

Germany is the favorite to be the first country to resume play. Italy looks like it will take the longest to resume, and Spain is on a similar trajectory. The United Kingdom is also trending toward having massive COVID-19 numbers, which makes players from all 3 countries look like dicey bets to score first. That means we can essentially write off the likes of Mo Salah, Karim Benzema, Leo Messi, Vinicius Junior and Cristiano Ronaldo.

France Could Resume Relatively Soon

France has done a better job of containing the virus, which puts the two PSG players listed above (Neymar and Edinson Cavani) into play. If Ligue 1 keeps its current schedule upon its resumption, PSG will square off at home against Nice in the team’s first game back. PSG beat Nice 4-1 earlier this season. Neymar has scored 13 goals in 15 league appearances this term, while Cavani has contributed 4 goals across 14 appearances.

Cavani has taken a lesser role with PSG this season with Mauro Icardi serving as the club’s first-choice striker, which makes him a risky option to be the first goal-scorer once Ligue 1 gets back underway. There’s a decent chance Cavani will continue to operate in a substitute role, so I’m not a fan of his +1200 odds. Neymar, who has started every game in which he has appeared in Ligue 1 play, is a far better bet at +500.

Haaland’s Incredible Run

Haaland started the season with RB Salzburg before being transferred to Dortmund during the January window. All the 19-year-old has done since is score goals by the truckload. Haaland has made 8 appearances for Dortmund, including 3 starts, in Bundesliga play. He has already found the back of the net an incredible 9 times. He has also scored twice in 2 Champions League appearances for Dortmund. That’s after scoring 8 goals in just 4 Champions League appearances earlier this season for Salzburg.

Haaland’s BvB squad will square off against rivals Bayern Munich if the Bundesliga keeps its current schedule upon its return. That’s obviously quite the tough draw considering Bayern have conceded a league-low 26 goals all year. Haaland is fully capable of finding the score sheet, but the +175 odds don’t offer a ton of upside.

Philippe Coutinho, who has been in fine form since making the move from Barcelona to Munich earlier this season, checks in with +500 odds to be the first scorer. The Brazilian has scored 8 times across 15 appearances in a Bayern shirt in Bundesliga play, which is an impressive track record.

Dortmund haven’t been quite as stingy defensively (33 goals allowed), so Coutinho looks like a very interesting option at +500.

Bet Brazilian

I don’t think Haaland is necessarily a poor choice, but if you’re betting on this I would shoot for more upside. Neymar and Coutinho have both been goal-scoring machines this season, and both figure to have an easier matchup than Haaland does in their first games back on the pitch.

I’d lean toward going with Neymar over Coutinho given their equal +500 odds, especially if France and Germany will be able to begin play around the same time. I wouldn’t go too crazy with this bet considering it’s not the most high-percentage play in the world, but I like both Brazilian options here at +500 apiece.

The Picks: Neymar (+500) or Philippe Coutinho (+500)

Taylor Smith / Author

Taylor is a sports writer based in Southern California. While he primarily specializes in basketball, baseball and football, he will also dabble in things like soccer and politics from time to time. He has lived in just about every corner of the United States at one point or another, and he has been covering sports and sports betting for the better part of a decade. Taylor currently lives in Long Beach with his fiancé and their two cats.