Sam Hendry picks out a few to look out for in the World Cup top Goal-Scorer market
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Antoine Griezmann lead the way in most bookies’ top goal-scorer markets and while all three have obvious claims, I’d rather look elsewhere for a potential winner.
Argentina have become so utterly reliant on Messi that he is expected to be the team’s main creator and goal-scorer. It would be a remarkable feat if he could drag this sub-par Argentina team to glory, while Neymar and Griezmann both form part of potent attacking forces which could see the goals shared around rather than an individual racking up big numbers.
Over the last 10 editions and 40 years of the World Cup, only once has there been a top goal-scorer with more than six goals. In that time, only three winners of the Golden Boot have come from the winning team, the last being Ronaldo in 2002.
Bearing that in mind, it’s worth looking at teams and players who have favourable groups as the winner could easily come from a side that goes no further than the last-16 or quarter finals.
Having transformed his game over the last five years, Cristiano Ronaldo is now the best centre forward in world football and it’s a little surprising to see him reaching odds of 16-1 with some bookmakers.
It’s unlikely, if not impossible, that Portugal will repeat their Euro 2016 success, but their attack looks more fluent and creative than it was two years ago and a pair of good performances in the group stage against Morocco and Iran, with an added goal or two in the knockout stage, would give Ronaldo a decent chance of picking up the Golden Boot.
The Real Madrid and Portugal legend has never shown his best form at a World Cup, scoring only once in each of his three tournaments, so he will be determined to make an impact in what could be his last chance on this stage.
Uruguay are favourites to top Group A and, in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, they have a world class strike force which the defences of Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia could struggle to cope with.
There is a quiet confidence in Uruguay that they have a team capable of upsetting the favourites and if Suarez and Cavani can work together then they could prove difficult to stop.
Both are available at around 25-1, but I’d rather back Suarez who is the more clinical finisher of the two and is never far away from the headlines at a World Cup.
James Rodriguez came from nowhere to claim the Golden Boot in 2014 and there are a couple of intriguing prospect for punters looking to back a player at longer odds.
Eden Hazard is a general 40-1 shot in a Belgium side designed to extract the best from their abundance of attacking talent. Placed in what should be a straightforward group, Hazard could be worth a flutter at more than double the price of Romelu Lukaku.
At 50-1, Spain’s Isco is another exciting attacking midfielder who could flourish in Russia.
The Real Madrid star has 10 goals in 26 caps for his country – including a hat-trick against Argentina in March – and has become a key player from his position just behind the main striker. Odds of 5-1 for him to be Spain’s top goalscorer also appeal.