Five Value Picks for the World Cup Golden Boot
Predicting the top scorer in the World Cup is never easy. Sometimes, of course, it goes to the person we all expect it to be, such as Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) in 2002 or David Villa in 2010. However, it often throws up a shock winner or someone previously unheard of, like Salvatore ‘Toto’ Schillacci in 1990 or Oleg Salenko in 1998. Indeed, it’s not always an out and out striker who grabs the prize, as James Rodriguez (2014) and Wesley Sneijder (shared with Villa and Diego Forlan in 2010) will attest to.
The point is that the World Cup Golden Boot rarely has the same level of predictability as, say, the Premier League or Champions League equivalents. We can, of course, use the important statistics to guide us in our predictions, but some metrics seem to go out the window in major tournaments. In light of that, here are five candidates who could beat the odds to land the Golden Boot in Russia:
The Real Madrid man is quickly becoming a talisman for club and country. He has scored 10 goals in 26 games for Spain, not bad for an attacking midfielder you’ll agree. However, eight of those goals have come in his last nine games for La Furia Roja. Isco is 60/1 in the World Cup betting with major outlets like 888sport. That looks like a bargain for a man who could easily outstrip Spain’s lone striker Diego Costa.
Russia’s star man in 1998, Oleg Salenko, got five of his six World Cup goals in just one game (vs. Cameroon). It goes to prove that just one match against weaker opposition can totally transform a player’s fortunes in the race for the Golden Boot. Punters are often put off backing a great player in an average team, but Poland find themselves in a relatively weak Group H with Colombia, Japan and Senegal. Lewandowski, who has a wonderful goals-to-games ratio for Poland, could get off to a flyer in the group stages. 33/1 looks like a tempting price for one of the world’s best strikers.
Mandzukic is available at a massive price of 80/1 to be the top scorer in Russia. That’s not bad considering Croatia are likely to qualify along with Argentina from Group D at the expense of Iceland and Nigeria. Like Lewandowski, Mandzukic has the chance to get off to a good start by grabbing some goals against (relatively) weak opposition. He also has the luxury of wonderful service by Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic.
The greatest dilemma facing France coach Didier Deschamps is where and when to play his ridiculously-talented squad of players. There was an argument in his side’s 3-1 defeat of Italy this week that playing Griezmann, Mbappé and Dembélé as a front three may be the way forward. Dembélé got on the scoresheet in that match against Italy and the Barcelona man could grasp his chance in Russia. 150/1 (Betfair) that he can become the youngest-ever Golden Boot winner looks massive.
Fantasy football players might be tempted to put Chicharito as their lone Mexican in their teams, but Hirving Lozano is the future of the Mexico national team. The PSV man bagged six goals for his country last year and looks certain to grab a place in the starting xi. Being paired with Germany in Group F is not ideal, but Mexico can triumph against Sweden and a poor South Korea side. 200/1 (Betfair) for Lozano to shock the word may be worth a shot.