Golden Boot contenders for 2018 World Cup

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The World Cup is almost upon us and there are plenty of forwards with their eye on the Golden Boot award for the tournament’s top goalscorer.

Lionel Messi – 9/1

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is rated as the favourite and, with 64 goals in 124 appearances for Argentina to date, he is certainly a real contender.

However, Argentina have been drawn in an incredibly competitive group alongside Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia.

It is always worth taking any potential striker’s opening opponents into account when it comes to a Golden Boot winner as that is where they are likely to come up against the weakest defences.

If we rewind to 2006, Germany’s Miroslav Klose finished with the most goals in the tournament (five), four of which came in the group stages, and following that logic Messi is perhaps best avoided.

Neymar – 10/1

Next in the betting comes Brazil’s Neymar and, if you do fancy backing one of the favourites, he could be the man to go for.

The Paris Saint-Germain hotshot has a better goals-to-games ratio than Messi, with 54 in 84 outings, and Le Selecao have what on paper looks an easier group, with Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland to face in their opening fixtures, so he may well grab a few goals before the knockout stages begin.

Timo Werner – 14/1

France’s Antoine Griezmann is next at 12/1 but, like Messi, he will come up against some real quality in the opening rounds and is also just as likely to set up a team-mate as he is to score.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane and Timo Werner are all 14/1 and the latter in particular has caught my eye.

Werner has just 13 Germany caps to his name but has already managed seven goals and is likely to be his side’s starting striker in Russia.

The 22-year-old has 34 goals in 63 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig and of the Golden Boot favourites, he offers good value and looks to be a real contender for the individual scoring honour this summer.

Robert Lewandowski – 28/1

If Poland are to go far in the tournament then they will need Robert Lewandowski in top form, and he could well be a decent outside bet for the Golden Boot.

With 52 goals in 93 appearances, he is already his country’s all-time leading scorer and, with group games against Japan and Senegal to come, he may well grab a few goals during the early stages of the competition.

It remains to be seen just how far the Poles can progress but if they do make it out of the group, there’s a good chance Lewandowski will have fired them into the knockout rounds.

Mario Mandzukic – 80/1

If you’re after a real outsider – potentially as an each-way bet with four places available – Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic could be a contender.

Admittedly, the Croats are in a tough group but any success they do have could rest on the shoulders of their most experienced striker, and at such a big price the Juventus striker could be worth the risk.

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