The countdown to the World Cup is really on now but with three days remaining until the tournament gets underway we have a chance to take a look at one of the most popular outright markets for the event which is the Top Goalscorer one.
This is always a competitive market with the best players in the world on show in a tournament where players could play just three matches if they are unlucky and seven if they go all the way. You need strategy and a good foresight to prevail in this market which is right up our street!
2014 – James Rodriguez
2010 – Thomas Muller
2006 – Miroslav Klose
2002 – Ronaldo
1998 – Davor Suker
1994 – Oleg Salenko & Hristo Stoichkov
1990 – Salvatore Schillaci
1986 – Gary Lineker
1982 – Paolo Rossi
1978 – Mario Kempes
Brazilian star Neymar goes into the tournament as the 10/1 favourite to lead the scoring charts. He looked on course to do the business four years ago until he got clobbered in the quarter final against Colombia which highlights taking someone at short prices in this market. He has only just come back from injury too and is in a talented forward line so while he’s the standout player there are plenty of reasons to swerve him.
Naturally it is a little more difficult to swerve Lionel Messi at 11/1. He is the best player in the world right now and some say the best who has ever lived. He is likely to be pivotal to the chances of Argentina and if they go the distance you would think that he is the most likely top scorer in the tournament. Them going far is anything but guaranteed though.
Antoine Griezmann leads the French campaign according to the odds. He is 12/1 to land the most goals in the competition but much like Neymar, while he is the standout player in his side he is part of a tasty front line who could share the goals around which would be a concern and a good enough reason to respect him but avoid him.
Gabriel Jesus, Timo Werner and Harry Kane are all next in the market at 16/1. Jesus would look a value alternative to Neymar but the same thing about them sharing goals applies to him. Werner and Kane may be the main men in their strike force which make them more attractive although Kane is yet to really do it at tournament level. Werner shared the honours at the Confederations Cup last year.
Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only other men in the betting who are shorter than 20/1. They are both 18/1. You would think Ronaldo’s chances depend on how far Portugal go but they won the Euros two years ago and he never top scored so that’s a concern. Lukaku looks excellent value.
The generic school of thought when attacking this market is to look for players who are most likely to play seven matches in the tournament. There is a third-fourth placed play-off in this tournament so the four teams who make the semi-finals will give players the chance to play seven matches.
While I accept that line of thinking, it is not much use if two or three of those matches are against watertight defences where the chances of scoring are less likely. Another thing to throw into the equation is that knockout matches are generally much tighter affairs to expecting goals in those games is not always the right thing. In an ideal world we would go with penalty takers but there aren’t enough penalties in World Cups to make that a priority for me.
I personally think the way to attack this market is to work out which groups will be the highest scoring and attack players in those sections, preferably in sides who might progress through a couple of knockout matches to give themselves the chance of adding to their group stage total.
It is at this point that we should point out that not everybody settles this market in the same fashion. Most bookmakers will pay out on goals scored with a dead heat should there be a tie but Skybet are paying out on the Golden Boot itself so if you bet with them then your player will need either most goals or if there is a tie the most assists among those who have scored the most goals.
I have identified three groups to be high scoring in this competition. They are groups C, G and H and the bulk of my bets are going to come from there in the hope they can fill their boots in the group stage and top up beyond that. Interestingly the last two winners of this market have both been three figure prices going into them and neither of them were out and out ‘number 9s’. With that in mind I’m going to take one main player in the market and then throw darts at a few at big prices.
I have Panama down as the worst side in the competition but in terms of defensive units I don’t think Tunisia are a great deal better. With that in mind I think the pick of the market leaders is Romelu Lukaku.
Belgium are in great form under Roberto Martinez and Panama comes along at a perfect time for them. This is a Belgium side who regularly feast on weak prey and I see no reason at all why that won’t continue here. If Belgium do run up a score you’ve got to think that Lukaku, who has hat tricks against Luxembourg and Gibraltar as well as braces against the likes of Estonia, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia to prove the point, will fill his boots. Tunisia and England could struggle to stop him too and whoever comes through Group H will offer little defensive resistance as well. At 18/1 Lukaku looks the main man to me.
I’m going to throw a few darts at some big prices here but none of them are without a chance in my eyes. Marco Reus has often been talked up in the past for Germany but injuries have not been friendly to him. He has remained loyal to Borussia Dortmund but at 29 this is a shop window for him for a big move and it is really the last chance for him. Germany lack an out and out scorer but are not short of creativity in midfield. If the opposition focus on Werner and Muller then Reus could be the one to take advantage at 100/1.
On the same basis that I expect Belgium to score a few goals I also expect England to bag some too and while all eyes will be on Harry Kane in the tournament I’m prepared to take one of his teammates at almost 10 times the price. That is Marcus Rashford. I’m not massively concerned if he doesn’t start as he is the sort of player who can take advantage of tiring defences as we saw in the Euros two years ago but actually his performance against Costa Rica was so strong I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts now. I don’t think England’s formation gets the best out of Kane so the player in behind him could benefit from that. If that is Rashford he’s too big at 150/1 in a team which suits his style much more than his club one does.
There is often a story behind every top scorer and what a story it would be if Paolo Guerrero lands the honours in Russia. It took the captains of the opposing three teams in Peru’s group to beg and plead for him to be allowed to play and they could pay the price. Guerrero has an excellent record for his country and will be the focal point of his attack. He was the top scorer at the 2011 and 2015 Copa America’s so the big stage does not faze him and with him in a group where I expect goals and a potential open second round tie I’ll pay to see how many the veteran scores in his one and only chance on this stage.
Paulinho bagged six goals for Brazil in qualifying which doesn’t sound much but that was more than Philippe Coutinho and Willian and the same number as Neymar despite playing fewer matches than all of them and in a deeper position than them too. The former Spurs midfielder had a decent first season for Barcelona and has carried his form onto the international stage. We saw in recent friendlies that he’s the central midfielder who bursts into the box. Since leaving Spurs he has an excellent club scoring record with 37 goals in 144 games for Guangzhou Evergrande and Barcelona. At 150/1 I’ll take him to actually win the Golden Boot with Skybet as he is likely to pick up assists with his goals.
Finally I can’t resist a little punt on Ivan Perisic. The Inter Milan midfield scored 11 times for the Italian giants in Serie A last season which is a very good effort and he’ll get forward from his midfield position for Croatia as well. Only Mandzukic has more goals for Croatia in this squad and if four goals gets a player in the mix I don’t think that is beyond the classy central man. He’s 150/1 too and worth a small punt.
PLACED – Back R.Lukaku Top Goalscorer (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 19.00 with William Hill (1/4 1-4)
Back M.Reus Top Goalscorer (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Ladbrokes (1/4 1-4)
Back I.Perisic Top Goalscorer (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Ladbrokes (1/4 1-4)
Back M.Rashford Top Goalscorer (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with BetVictor (1/4 1-4)
Back P.Guerrero Top Goalscorer (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-4)
Back him here:
Back Paulinho Top Goalscorer (Golden Boot) (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Sky Bet (1/4 1-4)
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