The waiting is nearly over! After all the anticipation, we are gearing up for another edition of the World Cup, and we are hoping for a footballing extravaganza.
It will be a World Cup of a few firsts. It will be the first World Cup staged in a Middle East country, and the first time in the tournament’s history that will be contested during the winter.
Usually, there is a big focus on team performances at the World Cup. The likes of Brazil and Argentina will come in sharp focus, and for the former, they will be desperate to end their two-decade drought to lift the coveted Jules Rimet trophy. And over 3 billion fans worldwide are expected to tune in.
However, there will also be plenty of stake from an individual perspective. More specifically, we are talking about accolades such as the Golden Boot prize, which always looks nice on the mantelpiece.
So, ahead of the World Cup, we have run through the main runners and riders that will be in contention to take home the Golden Boot.
Harry Kane (England)
Perhaps an obvious place to start! Harry Kane has been a goal machine for England, betting 51 times and he is within striking distance of overhauling the Three Lions’ record scorer Wayne Rooney (53).
Kane has certainly upped his goal output this term, as he has netted 12 times in 15 Premier League appearances, compared to a meagre three at the same stage of last season. He has put himself into better goalscoring positions, and as such his xG (expected goals) is much higher.
Four years ago, Kane took the Golden Boot with his six-goal haul even though England exited in the semi-finals at the hands of Russia. As always, Kane will always garner plenty of interest from a betting perspective. Indeed, of the top bookmakers listed at aussiebet.com, Kane is carrying short odds to pick up the Golden Boot prize again. For example, at bet365, Kane is the short-priced favourite at 7/1 to be the World Cup’s top goalscorer.
Kylian Mbappe (France)
Heralded as the player most likely to usurp Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe is already a world champion, and he just seems to go from strength to strength.
In Russia, he was named the Best Young Player, and he has since gone on to fulfil his potential as one of the game’s most talented strikers. Blessed with electric pace, as well as a razor sharp eye for goal, Mbappe has netted 169 times since the last World Cup.
When you factor in that he has scored the most goals in the calendar year (43) for Paris Saint-Germain across Europe’s top five leagues, this serves to underline what a threat he will be, and he will be instrumental if France are going to successfully defend the World Cup.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
While it hasn’t quite happened for him on the international stage, Messi will be hoping to put on a show and go out with a bang as Qatar will represent his last World Cup. And he will be desperate to go one better than 2014 when Argentina came up just short in the Final against Germany.
The seven-times Ballon d’Or winner can never be discounted. Although he has been outscored by eight different players this term as he’s struck 12 times in 19 games in all competitions this term, he has a decent shot-conversion rate (15.8%).
A conversion rate that has come from 78 attempts, and he will have to do better if he’s going to keep pace with the likes of Mbappe and co. However, we know what Messi is capable and he will be involved in the conversation.
Sometimes, you get the unnecessary theatrics from Neymar, but we all are fully aware of what he can produce. He is another PSG player to feature on this list, and he could well be the leading light for Brazil in Qatar.
There has been criticism that is one of the oldest squads in Brazil’s history to go to a World Cup Finals, and while he was part of the side that was humiliated by Germany in 2014, little was expected of him then.
The 30-year-old has netted 15 times across all competitions this season, two more than last term, and his tally is only bettered by four players in Europe’s top five leagues. And according to Opta, he has converted 13 of the 23 big chances that have come his way — a rate that is better than Mbappe (9/22) and Robert Lewandowski (10/22).
Karim Benzema (France)
It was only fitting that Karim Benzema picked up the Ballon d’Or and he was able to fulfil a lifetime dream. The Real Madrid talisman has been in exceptional form, and he became the eldest winner of the prestigious individual prize since Stanley Matthews in 1956.
If Mbappe is unable to do the damage, then Didier Deschamps has the luxury of heaping the pressure on Benzema to deliver the goods. After a long absence from France’s squad, Benzema has gone on to become one of the most lethal strikers in Europe — a statement that is highlighted by the fact he netted 44 goals in 46 games across all competitions.
He can score all types of goals, whether it be with his left foot, right foot, or head, and he will pose a threat to any side at the World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Despite being in the autumn of his years and seemingly on his way out at Manchester United after a combustible interview in which he slated Erik ten Hag, Cristiano Ronaldo will be keen to remind the footballing community of his undeniable talent.
Like Messi, this will be Ronaldo’s last World Cup and he won’t want to go out without a whimper. Having scored his 700th club career goal last month, Ronaldo has been phenomenal and he is the highest scorer in international football history.
Ronaldo will have some say, especially if Portugal are going to go deep in the tournament.