Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Value World Cup Golden Boot contenders

Who can claim this coveted prize in Brazil?
Now that there are less than two weeks to go until the start of the World Cup in Brazil people have begun to voice their opinions on who they think will win the competition this year. But something that frequently gets overlooked is the man who finishes with the most amount of goals, the winner of the Golden Boot.

With the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo verging on single figures in the betting markets, it's worth taking a look at some surprise packages taking part this summer.  

Here is a brief run-down of the last three World Cup top scorers:

2002 – Ronaldo (Brazil), Winners, 8 goals
             M Klose (Germany), Finalists, 5 goals

2006 – M Klose (Germany), 3rd Place Play-off, 5 goals

2010 – Four players finished on five goals:
            D Forlan (Uruguay), 3rd Place Play-off
            T Muller (Germany), 3rd Play Play-off 
            W Sneijder (Netherlands), Finalists
            D Villa (Spain), Winners                                                                                             

Important Factors:   

Strong Team - In order to have a chance of backing someone to win the Golden Boot you obviously have to be part of a good team. It sounds stupid to iterate this but make sure that your man has a decent chance of making it to the World Cup final, since the more games he plays during the tournament, the more chances he will have to score goals.

Striker – Again, it sounds silly to mention it but it needs telling. The last time the Golden Boot was won by a non-striker was in 1974, by Gregorz Lato, and even then he was a winger. Strikers consistently claim this prize because the tournament is short, they are given the most amount of chances to score and your lead striker will often play the most amount of minutes in the side. Don’t be tempted to pick a midfielder, even if he is priced up at 100/1.

Easy Group – A dud team in a group means a good chance at scoring lots of goals. Often the Golden Boot winner only needs to score at least four goals during the tournament to claim the coveted prize. You want your selection to have the chance to knock a couple past a poor team in the group stages to put your man well on his way.

Four value picks to top score at this World Cup:

Diego Costa (Spain) 28/1 – The Atletico Madrid striker has had a phenomenal season and has racked up 27 league goals in Spain, only one less than Lionel Messi. Hopefully Costa can recover from a hamstring injury (which forced him to come off early during the Champions League final) in time for Spain’s opening game of the World Cup. 

If fit, Costa has every chance of leading the Spanish line and with the likes of Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva and Mata working in behind him there will certainly be no shortage of provision. Spain could well go all the way to the final in Brazil and Costa will no doubt be hoping to impress in his first major international tournament.

Hulk (Brazil) 50/1 – Brazil are favourites to win the World Cup in their own country and it would be no surprise to see one of their players capturing the top scorer prize to boot. Forgive the pun. According to the bookies, both Neymar and Fred are more likely to score the goals for Brazil but I think they have got this wrong. 

Hulk has scored 17 goals in 23 starts for Zenit this season which is a fantastic return. What is more miraculous is that he was averaging nearly six shots a game in the Champions League, against some of the world’s best defenders. I would not be surprised to see Hulk taking Brazil to World Cup glory come July.

AndrĂ© Schurrle (Germany) 80/1 – The Germans score goals. You only have to look down the list at the last few international tournaments so see the likes of Muller and Klose knocking them in and I don’t think this year will be any different. Apart from maybe the goal scorer himself because I’m backing Chelsea striker AndrĂ© Schurrle. 

Schurrle scored eight goals for Chelsea in 15 starts last season but it’s when playing for Germany that he has pulled off some extremely impressive performances of late. He scored four goals in his country’s last two qualifying games, including a hat-trick against Sweden. The pacey forward fits in fantastically with the German system and he could be a real danger on the counter-attack in the latter parts of matches against tiring defenders in humid conditions. The only worry is he may not start every game but at 80/1 I am willing to take that risk.

Karim Benzema (France) 33/1 – France are a surprise team for me at this summer’s championships. Written off by many already the French are deemed to have no chance of advancing that far in Brazil. But in major finals anything can happen and what’s more they have a comparatively easier group than the other big teams. 

Step up Karim Benzema who on the back of an excellent season with Real Madrid will be hoping to lead the line for France this summer and score plenty of goals. A group match against Honduras is ideal for France to stamp down some authority and if Benzema has his shooting boots on then he could well bag himself a couple of goals. Sometimes all it takes is three or so goals to get you within reach of the Golden Boot.

I would recommend backing the above each-way and getting ¼ odds for a top 4 finish. 

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