World Cup Golden Ball Odds: Mbappe & Messi Battling For Award
With just two games at World Cup 2022 remaining, the best betting sites believe there is a strong favourite to win the Golden Ball.
Argentina will take on France in Monday’s final. The Albiceleste beat Croatia 3-0 on Tuesday to book their spot in the showpiece event at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.
Twenty-four hours later, France overcame Morocco 2-0 to reach the World Cup final for the second tournament in-a-row.
On Saturday, Croatia and Morocco will battle it out for the bronze medal in the third-place play-off, but no one involved in that match is likely to win the Golden Ball.
So, who are the top contenders ahead of the World Cup’s concluding weekend? Let’s get straight into it.
Messi Now Odds-On Favourite to Claim Prize
Lionel Messi was a little fortunate to win the Golden Ball at World Cup 2014 – and his sheepish expression after he accepted the trophy suggested he agreed.
Things are different eight years on: ahead of Monday’s final, Messi is deservedly the strong favourite to be crowned the tournament’s best player.
Just like Argentina as a whole, the 35-year-old has got better as the tournament has gone on.
He was on top form in the semi-final defeat of Croatia, opening the scoring from the penalty spot before providing a sensational assist for Julian Alvarez to make sure of the victory in the second half.
Messi is not quite as good as he was at his peak, but he remains a world-class dribbler, passer and scorer.
He tends to play in bursts these days, but that has been enough for him to make a huge impact on most games at this tournament.
With five goals and three assists – no one has more of either – Messi is available at 1.22 to win a second Golden Ball.
Mbappe’s Price Lengthens After Two Quieter Displays
Kylian Mbappe has also found the back of the net five times in Qatar, while he has set up a further two goals for France.
He helped Les Bleus get past Morocco last time out, in effect setting up the second goal after some fine work down the left.
Mbappe has been devastating at this tournament. His brilliant brace against Poland remains the highlight of his campaign, but the Paris Saint-Germain forward has made a positive impression in each of his appearances at what is only his second World Cup.
However, his odds have fallen to 5.5 in the Golden Ball market with football betting sites. That is principally to do with timing. In the quarter-finals and semi-finals, Messi outshone Mbappe.
Doing the business in the latter stages of a competition is always given greater merit than performances in the group phase.
It is not that Mbappe has been bad in his last two outings, but he was generally quiet against England and did not score against Morocco. However, a goal or two on Monday could be enough for him to overtake Messi at the last.
Griezmann Stars But Unlikely to Be Named as Best Player
Mbappe has been more eye-catching and Olivier Giroud has scored more goals, but Antoine Griezmann is arguably the most important piece in the France jigsaw.
Playing in a more withdrawn role, the Atletico Madrid man has done a bit of everything at this tournament.
Griezmann links the midfield and the attack, sets up chances for his teammates, gets France’s passing game going, and even breaks up play with tackles and interceptions.
He has been magnificent for the defending champions, who are seeking to become only the third nation in World Cup history to win back-to-back editions of the tournament.
However, odds of 15.0 with betting apps suggest that Griezmann will miss out on the Golden Ball. He has not been as obviously eye-catching as Mbappe or Messi, while the fact he is yet to score a goal could ultimately count against him.
Alvarez a Long Shot – Even Final Heroics Might Not Be Enough
Julian Alvarez began the World Cup on the bench, with Lautaro Martinez chosen as Argentina’s first-choice striker.
But the Manchester City man performed well as a substitute and then forced his way into the starting XI, where he has remained ever since.
Alvarez’s double against Croatia moved him onto four goals for the tournament, putting him just one behind Messi and Mbappe in the race for the Golden Boot.
He has an outside chance of beating the high-profile pair to that award but the Golden Ball will surely be beyond Alvarez, who is a long shot at 66.0 with World Cup betting sites.
Even if the City starlet notches a hat-trick in an Argentina triumph in the final, he will struggle to overtake Messi in the race to be chosen as the standout performer at World Cup 2022.
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