Other than who’s going to win the 2018 World Cup, the most talked about topic among bettors is who’ll win the Golden Boot as the best goal scorer. It’s a notoriously challenging task to predict the winner, but the renowned Soccer Saturday pundits are giving it a go.
The three most obvious choices are Lionel Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann. Only one of the four pundits, however, has picked a favourite. Phil Thompson backs Atletico Madrid’s star, saying that he anticipates France to reach the later stages of the tournament. Considering Griezmann is surrounded by tremendous attacking talent and is the team’s penalty taker, we can agree that logic is on his side.
The rest of the hosts seemed to prefer long-shots. Charlie Nicholas went with Luis Suarez. The Barcelona forward had a fine, yet the unspectacular season for his club and will look to make amends after the events that took place during the 2014 World Cup when Uruguay was knocked out by Colombia in the Round of 16. Nicholas also mentions that the South Americans should score plenty of goals in a defensively-challenged group, so both Suarez and Cavani should be among the goal scoring leaders after the first three games.
Matt Le Tissier supports a different Atletico Madrid player – Diego Costa. He believes Spain will go far in the competition and for that to happen, Costa will have to be on top of his game. His second option was Neymar, who scored a great goal in his first game back against Slovenia and then made an Austria defender look silly in Brazil’s 3-0 victory on Sunday.
Finally, Paul Merson’s argument that a player’s team must reach at least a semi-final in order for him to have a shot at becoming the top goal scorer was valid. However, his choice was more supportive of England than his argument. Raheem Sterling is the player he picked, saying that Manchester City’s forward knows how to get open and put himself in goal scoring opportunities. All he needs to do is make sure to put the ball in the net. If England were to avoid Brazil in the quarter-finals, The Three Lions could go far and it’s common for under-the-radar players to announce themselves on the big stage at the World Cup. Merson also likes Robert Lewandowski, but questions whether Poland can make a deep run in order for him to top the Golden Boot rankings.
Neither of the Golden Boot winners in the last three World Cups scored more than six goals (James Rodriguez – 6 (2014); Thomas Muller, Diego Forlan, Wesley Sneijder and David Villa – 5 (2010); Miroslav Klose – 5 (2006)). Since 1978, Brazil’s Ronaldo is the only one to find the net more than six times. He scored eight goals in 2002. The overall record is held by France’s Just Fontaine with 13. He’s one of three players to have broken the 10-goal barrier, the other two being Sandor Kocsis (11 in 1954) and Gerd Muller (10 in 1970).
World Cup 2018 Golden Boot winner odds: