With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just a couple of weeks away, football fans can look forward to the very best attacking players that will be strutting their stuff this summer. The coveted World Cup Golden Boot, awarded to the competition’s top goalscorer, is always hotly contested and here are the five players that bookmakers have as the favourites to win the award come the conclusion of the tournament on 13th July.
Where else can a preview of the leading protagonists for the Golden Boot begin than with with the legendary Lionel Messi who will be hoping to add the World Cup to his already bulging CV. The Argentina forward has of course, won everything there is to win domestically during his time with Barcelona and is widely regarded as the best player of his generation and one of the very best of all time. Messi has been on the scene for a number of years but he is still only 26 and given his age, you have to feel that the World Cup in Brazil is his best chance of tasting glory on the world stage. It should be said that Messi has perhaps been slightly below his best for Barcelona this season though and his critics will say that he has never dominated for Argentina as he has done so regularly on a domestic level. Argentina were however very fortunate when the World Cup draw was made which can only boost the chances of Messi picking up the Golden Boot, with Argentina expected to go deep into the tournament and with 37 goals to show for his 83 caps, Messi is sure to be pivotal in any success for his country who last won the tournament in 1986.
Neymar @ 10/1
There is a huge amount of pressure on the shoulders of the Brazilian players this summer as the host nation of the World Cup with star forward Neymar the centre of that attention. The 22-year-old has grown into one of the stars of world football over the past few years and with Brazil the clear favourites to win the tournament, it is Neymar who is likely to be the key man for them in attack. The former Santos forward has enjoyed mixed success since making a big money move to play alongside Lionel Messi in Barcelona but there is no doubting that he has magic in his feet when he is on form. He has racked up an impressive record at International level with 30 goals from 47 games to his name and if as expected, Brazil do well, it is hard to imagine they will do so without Neymar chipping in with his fair share of goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo @ 14/1
It has been a sensational 12 months for Cristiano Ronaldo and he will be hoping to cap it off with a successful World Cup as Captain of Portugal. The Real Madrid attacker picked up the Ballon D’or recently and along with Lionel Messi, he has been on top of the World game now for a number of years and will head to Brazil full of confidence following his recent Champions League winners medal. Ronaldo is quite simply a goal scoring machine having once again hit over 30 League goals for the fourth consecutive season at a domestic level and he is more than capable of taking the Golden Boot at the World Cup. The only negative is the overall strength of the Portuguese team this year with few expecting them to go all the way in Brazil. They have a tough enough group with Germany, USA and Ghana to play in their opening three matches and although they should make it through to the knock-out stages, Ronaldo may need some luck along the way if he is to finish top scorer in Brazil.
Luis Suarez @ 18/1
The Liverpool Striker has been sensational all season in the Premier League and he will be the key man for Uruguay in Brazil in June and July. Suarez recently picked up the PFA Player of the Year award in England and there is no doubt that he has been unplayable at times, scoring more than 30 goals in the process which marks himself out as one of the hottest strikers in the world. It was only a year ago that his career looked in trouble after the infamous bite on Branislav Ivanovic but he has turned that around quickly to emerge as they key player in the Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. He, along with Edinson Cavani, will form a lethal attacking pair for Uruguay this summer and it is easy to make a case for him having a successful tournament in front of goal. There is a major stumbling block for Suarez and Uruguay though with their Group one of the toughest in the tournament with England and Italy also fighting it out for qualification. One of those top nations won’t make it through the pool and anybody backing Suarez here will need to hope that it is not Uruguay who fall at the first fence in Brazil.
There is also an injury doubt surrounding the fitness of the 27-year-old who had keyhole surgery recently on a knee injury but it has been reported in the press that the man who has scored 38 times for his country in 77 appearance has been texting his Liverpool teammates in the England squad to let them know that he’ll be ready to face them when the two sides clash on Thursday, 19th June.
Sergio Aguero @ 18/1
Sergio Aguero of Argentina is another Argentinean predicted by many to be amongst the goals in Brazil and the Man City forward has been the key man for his club over the past few years and he is almost certain to start alongside Lionel Messi. The former Atletico Madrid Striker has 21 goals from his 47 International matches which is a decent strike rate and given the kind draw Argentina have been handed, expect them to be involved deep into the latter stages. The negative for Aguero in this market is his recent injury record with a number of muscle problems keeping him out of the Man City team at various parts of the campaign in England. Despite that, he has still waded in with some important goals and if he can regain full fitness, he may well prove excellent value at around 18/1 to pick up the Golden Boot at the World Cup. That said, both he and Messi may have to settle for a share of the spoils in front of goal give Argentina’s embarrassment of goal scoring riches and it may be the figurehead of a team that wins the award.
Other names currently towards the head of the betting include Fred and Diego Costa of Brazil, Higuain, also of Argentina, Lukaku of Belgium, Benzema of France, Thomas Muller of Germany, Robin van Persie of the Netherlands and Balotelli of England. England’s best hope comes in the form of Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge who is a 66/1 chance to continue his great season domestically on the international stage.
Odds quoted are taken from World-Cup.Betting-Directory.com