The Golden Boot is awarded to the leading goalscorer at the World Cup. In South Africa four years ago four players scored five goals and that was enough to win the honour. Ronaldo scored eight goals for Brazil in 2002 but in every other World Cup since 1978 the leading scorer found the net six times. The record is the 13 goals scored by Just Fontaine for France in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
There are up to a maximum of seven matches for each player to accumulate a tally. The two finalists and losing semi-finalists play seven matches and teams eliminated in previous rounds provide one less match progressively for a player to score enough goals to win the Golden Boot. It’s rare for a leading scorer to play less than the maximum number of games. Ant player in a side eliminated at the group stage will play three matches at most
The winner of this title is one of the most popular betting markets leading up to the tournament and once the competition has begun. Odds are updated after each match and there can be big fluctuations if a player scores more than one goal in any particular fixture. World Cup matches in the last five tournaments have produced on average 2.4 goals so a striker must be at his best to average just about one goal per game.
The leading contenders for this year’s Golden Boot are listed below, showing country, best odds and the number of games and goals throughout their international careers with their average scoring rate, as at May 7th.
Lionel Messi (Argentina) 8/1 83/37 0.45
Argentina is one of the sides from South America that could take advantage if the pressure is too huge for Brazil. Messi will probably play in seven matches and his side have a relatively easy group. However, Messi was not at his best in the last World Cup four years ago and arrives at the tournament after a season for Barcelona that was not his best.
Neymar (Brazil) 14/1 47/30 0.64
The pressure on Neymar to score the goals for Brazil in a home World Cup will be massive. He played well in the Confederations Cup in Brazil last year and had a good Olympics tournament for his country at London 2012. After a great start to his career at Barcelona his form has dipped and he is not playing at his confident best.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) 14/1 110/49 0.45
Ronaldo is at a disadvantage in that he may play five or less games for Portugal as they are not considered one of the leading contenders to win the tournament. Even that might be enough for Ronaldo to win the Golden Boot. He was phenomenal in the play-off home fixture against Sweden, scoring a hat-trick to ensure his country’s participation in this year’s tournament.
Luis Suarez (Uruguay) 18/1 77/38 0.49
It’s almost preordained that Luis Suarez will score against England in the group game. He arrives at the World Cup as arguably the best striker in the world. He was the player of the year in England and became the first player since the Ian Rush era to score 30 league goals for Liverpool
Sergio Aguero (Argentina) 18/1 47/21 0.45
Aguero has a moderate international scoring record but has taken his game to a new level since joining Manchester City. One of the negatives with regards Aguero and Messi for that matter is that they will share the goals for Argentina. Aguero seems certain to play five games or more but just may not have enough chances in matches involving Argentina to be the tournament’s top scorer.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) 25/1 27/5 0.19
Apart from Daniel Sturridge Lukaku is the most inexperienced international player of our leading contenders. He had a good season on loan from Chelsea at Everton but his scoring rate dipped after a productive start. Lukaku is a confidence player who may not get enough opportunities with Belgium to have any chance of winning the Golden Boot.
Robin Van Persie (Holland) 33/1 82/41 0.50
Robin van Persie is Holland’s leading scorer and a veteran of two world Cups. He scored for Holland at Euro 2012 when they lost al three matches. Despite the emergence of younger strikers Van Persie will still be first choice in Brazil but a disrupted season with Manchester United is not the best preparation for the World Cup.
Mario Balotelli (Italy) 33/1 29/12 0.41
Mario Balotelli could be described a flawed genius and often seems troubled by the weight of expectation when playing for Italy. The racial tensions associated with the player often get in the way of his football. He was outstanding for Italy at Euro 2012, especially when scoring two goals to eliminate Germany in the semi-finals.
Wayne Rooney (England) 50/1 89/38 0.43
Wayne Rooney looks destined to become the record scorer for both England and Manchester United given another four years at the top free of injury. He had his best tournament in his first, Euro 2004. He has not scored in two World Cup finals for England but has entered the last two tournaments lacking full fitness
Daniel Sturridge (England) 80/1 10/3 0.30
Daniel Sturridge has had a great first season for Liverpool after underperforming with Manchester City and Chelsea. It’s difficult to know how he will combine with Wayne Rooney for England and he will have to adjust to not being able to feed of Luis Suarez. The problem for Sturridge, and Rooney and Steven Gerard, in the context of winning the Golden Boot is that England might only play three games.
Steven Gerrard (England) 200/1 109/21 0.19
Steven Gerrard takes the penalties for England and has a decent scoring record from midfield. However, the only chance of him contending for the Golden Boot is if he scores several times against Costa Rica and England reaches the semi finals and he gets to play in seven matches.
Uruguay can win the World Cup and Luis Suarez can win the Golden Boot for the highlight of his career following his problems at Liverpool which he has recovered fro with an outstanding season.