Soccer’s showpiece event kicks off in just over a months time in Russia where thirty-two nations will battle it out to lift the sport’s ultimate prize. At the same a flurry of forwards will fight for another acclaimed asset – the Golden Boot – which is given out to the top goalscorer at the World Cup. The cream of the strikers on the planet will come together to etch their name in history.
Some of the greatest players of all-time have walked away with the honour since the first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay. From France’s Just Fontaine to Brazil’s Garrincha and Portugal’s Eusebio, German marksmen Gerd Muller, Argentine striker Mario Kempes, Italian icon Paolo Rossi, Englishman Gary Lineker and to modern-day figures such as Ronaldo and Miroslav Klose, it is an illustrious list.
At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa it was German Thomas Muller who won the Golden Boot with five goals. Four years ago in Brazil it was Colombia’s James Rodriguez with six that took home the honour, the first Colombian to have claimed the award. Both will be in Russia seeking to pick up the gong a second time.
The most lethal goal-scorers in European club soccer this season have been a collection of the usual suspects as well as several emerging young stars. In England Liverpool’s Egyptian star Mohamed Salad has been in freakish form. He has scored 31 goals and is showing no signs of stopping. For his country the 25-year-old has an outstanding goal-scoring rate of 33 goals from just 57 matches.
Harry Kane has enjoyed a brilliant season for Tottenham and has managed 27 goals. He will play a key role for England in Russia in the World Cup. Sergio Aguero’s 21 goals helped Manchester City to the Premier League title, and his record for Argentina is 36 goals from 84 caps. With the Albiceleste he will have to compete for chances with his prolific teammate Lionel Messi.
In Spain Messi has starred once again with 34 goals. At 30 years of age Russia could be the Barcelona man’s final World Cup, so he will want to make it a memorable one and avenge that final defeat from 2014. His old rival Ronaldo has also been lethal for Real Madrid with 25 goals. The captain of Portugal, he will anchor his nation’s hopes on his broad shoulders at the World Cup. Barca forward Luis Suarez has also been on target regularly, with 24 goals, while Iago Aspas has bagged in 20. They are both off to Russia with Uruguay and Spain, respectively.
In Germany it has been Poland’s Robert Lewandowski whacking in goals for fun, with 29 for Bayern Munich. Poland are finally back in the World Cup after a long absence and Lewandowski will be a threat. In Serie A two Italians in Lazio man Ciro Immobile and Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi have been the most prolific. But with Italy failing to qualify for Russia neither will be at this World Cup. But one man who will is France-based Uruguayan Edinson Cavani. He has notched 27 goals for PSG this season and will form an awesome attacking duo with Suarez for the South American nation come June.
History tells us that the Golden Boot winner doesn’t always come from the country that wins the World Cup, with Rodriguez in Brazil and Mueller in South Africa two prime examples. Often the top goal-scorer comes from nations that have a surprising run into the quarter-finals or semi-finals. For that reason it is worth looking beyond the big names of Messi and Ronaldo for real value. William Hill has Salah at 33/1.
Considering how he has been scoring for fun in the past 12 months, Salah is worth a look. Egypt are a decent chance of getting out of Group A. Also worth a punt is his Liverpool teammate Roberto Firmino. He will be part of Brazil’s squad and is ranked at 25/1 at some of the top soccer betting sites. Kane is decently priced at the odds of 16/1 with Unibet. England have a fairly easy group alongside Panama, Tunisia and Belgium, and the Spurs striker is bound to find the net.
France has been tipped to have a good tournament in Russia. In Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe they have two forwards who could cause real carnage. The 27-year-old is listed at 16/1 by both Karamba and Ladbrokes, while the Monaco man has value at 40/1 from both bookmakers.
Brazil’s 2014 World Cup campaign in disaster and Gabriel Jesus is one of their new stars determined to get them back at the top of world soccer. The pacey 21-year-old has been impressing at Manchester City and should be in Tite’s starting XI in Russia. Paddy Power have Jesus at 18/1 while Sun Bets have him at the attractive price of 20/1. The Selecao will breeze past Costa Rica, Switzerland and Serbia in Group E, and will face either Sweden, Mexico or South Korea in the round of 16. Jesus is certainly an intriguing option for the Golden Boot that is worth considering.
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