World Cup Watch: Who are the favourites for this year’s Golden Boot?
There is only one place to start; the World Cup poster boy Neymar has a great chance of winning the Golden Boot in his home country. The Brazilian has had a mixed second-half of the season at Barcelona where he has struggled at times, but the way Brazil play is much more to his style. With Brazil’s rapid attacking, Neymar will enjoy a lot more spae than he does with Barcelona’s possession based play, and when given space Neymar can be destructive, as we saw at the Confederations Cup. He has an incredible 30 goals in 47 international caps, and given that Brazil are expected to go far in the competition playing a very attacking brand of football, Neymar is certainly one of the favourites to win it.
Brazil’s rivals, Argentina, have in Lionel Messi someone who is also more than capable of winning the Golden Boot. Messi hasn’t always replicated his Barcelona performances for his country, but since 2012 he has 18 goals in 16 appearances for Argentina. Like Neymar, he has faced criticism at times this season, but his goal record of 39 goals in 42 club outings can’t be argued with. Argentina have probably the best attack of any team at the tournament, with Di María, Higuaín, and Agüero alongside all enjoying great seasons too. Argentina will benefit from playing in their own continent, and with that attack you have to fancy them to score a lot of goals, which will only help Messi’s chances.
Liverpool’s Luis Suárez has had a frankly unbelievable season up to now. The Uruguayan has spearheaded Liverpool’s title challenge, scoring a goal a game in his 30 appearances up to now. He will almost certainly break the record for the most goals in a 38-game season, and also has a chance of at least equaling the all time record for goals in season of 34. Again that climate benefit that the South Americans will experience could prove pivotal in deciding both the World Cup winners and the Golden Boot. Suárez is already Uruguay’s top all time scorer, and he will definitely add to his tally in Brazil. Uruguay were impressive at the last World Cup as they reached the semi-finals, and if they were to repeat or better that feat then Suárez is a strong favourite to win the Golden Boot.
Moving out of South America, Cristiano Ronaldo has had yet another magnificent season at Real Madrid. With 45 goals in 42 games, the Portuguese has been the best player of the 13/14 season. He needs just one more to break the record for the most goals scored in one Champions League campaign, and with Madrid holding the advantage over Bayern Munich you would expect him to do it. It’s also impossible to forget the Ballon d’Or winner’s stupendous performance against Sweden for Portugal, where he sent his team to the World Cup with a brilliant hat-trick. He is probably the most consistent finisher in world football, the only thing that might hold him back would be whether his compatriots can supply him with good chances. If they do that, expect Portugal and Ronaldo to have a very successful World Cup.
Whilst I expect the Golden Boot winner to come from one of those four, Diego Costa’s declaration for Spain has meant that Spain now have a really world-class striker, which they didn’t have in EURO 2012. Whilst an unknown quantity at international level, the Brazilian-born Spaniard has 27 league goals in 32 games, and Brazil must surely be kicking themselves that they allowed him to get away. If Vincent del Bosque consistently plays a formation with a striker, then with the abundance of talent Spain have in midfield Costa should be provided with a great number of chances, and he has shown this season what a clinical finisher he is.
Who will win this year’s Golden Boot?