Although football has long remained a sport where success is based upon the collective sum of its parts, every domestic and international team relies on a regular source of goals to defeat their opponents and win trophies. Goals have the powerful ability to turn any game on its head, and can easily turn a losing position or stalemate into a winning position with three points, qualification for the next round or a trophy on offer. The World Cup provides the perfect stage for the best players in the world to showcase their ability and quality, with strikers often stealing the limelight as the men tasked with the responsibility of scoring goals and winnings games for their nation. While Zlatan Ibrahimovic may not be at Brazil 2014, there are many other world-class strikers who will battle it out to top the scoring charts and take away the Golden Boot.
While Cristiano’s team have the quality to stage a considerable challenge for the World Cup this summer, the 2013 World Player of the year is an unstoppable force. Ronaldo continues to score goals for Real Madrid in La Liga and Champions League at a frightening rate, with the Portuguese superstar set to be his country’s greatest hope in pursuit of their first ever major trophy. His performance during the qualification play-off against Sweden demonstrated his importance to Paulo Bento and Portugal. Ronaldo scored all four goals over the two legs, including a superb hat-trick in Sweden during a period when Portugal were seriously under the cosh. Sheer athleticism and power is matched by a lethal shot from any distance, including free-kicks and penalties, which put Ronaldo on another level alongside Lionel Messi as the best players in the world. 14/1 represents excellent odds for Ronaldo to win the Golden Boot, although Portugal will have to be at their best to qualify from an extremely tough group which includes Germany, Ghana and the USA.
Argentina are highly fancied to win the 2014 World Cup for two simple reasons: the fact is held in a South American country, and Lionel Messi. Barcelona’s superstar striker continues to break goal-scoring records wherever and whenever he plays, although a World Cup winner’s medal remains the missing piece of silverware from his personal trophy cabinet. Messi is currently 9/1 favourite to be top scorer in Brazil, although it remains to be seen whether he can shoulder the entire responsibility of leading Argentina to glory on his own. Facing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria in Group F may provide Messi with the perfect opportunity to assert himself on the World Cup stage, and score numerous goals that put him way out in front before the knockout phases have even begun.
It would be remiss to leave out one of Brazil’s impressive arsenal of talented goal-scorers when discussing contenders for the Golden Boot this summer. Neymar, Lionel Messi’s team-mate at Barcelona, arguably stands out as the most likely to contribute goals during Brazil’s pursuit of World Cup glory on home soil. A relatively impressive first season in Spain is likely to earn him backing in the betting market, with odds of 14/1 matching Cristiano Ronaldo. Neymar’s chances of finishing top scorer could be aided Brazil’s opponents in Group A, with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon unlikely to keep Brazil at bay for the entire 90 minutes.
Scoring thirty goals in the Premier League, arguably one of the greatest and toughest domestic leagues in world football, illustrates a striker who is at the top of his game. Luis Suarez could potentially fire Liverpool to an unprecedented league title, with a wonderful array of goals showing signs that his past misdemeanours are behind him. The Uruguayan could not only finish the season with the European Golden Shoe under his arm, but may also pose a considerable threat for the top scorer award at Brazil 2014. Suarez, alongside strike partner Edinson Cavani, will hope to fire two-time World Cup winners Uruguay to potential glory this summer, although their task will not be easy against Group D opponents Italy, England and Costa Rica. 18/1 may put Suarez behind Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar in the bookmakers’ eyes, but the Liverpool star has the momentum to carry his wonderful club form into, and beyond, the summer.