2018 World Cup Prediction – Top Goalscorer
Romelu Lukaku at 20/1 Each Way
This is Belgium’s golden generation of football players, and after failing to get past the semi-finals in France two years ago they will be looking to take a step further at least in the World Cup. The likes of Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Axel Witsel, Kevin de Bruyne, Radja Nainggolan, Jan Vertonghen, and Thibaut Courtois are in the prime of their careers, and there is a very promising mixture of youth and experience throughout the squad.
They are far from reliant on a single player, but with Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku as the main striker, you would fancy most of the chances to fall to him. More often than not, he tends to take these chances when in a Belgium shirt.
The group winners scored a joint high 43 goals in ten qualifying games too, and will face the likes of Panama and Tunisia in the group stages. To put this into context; Panama have conceded six against Switzerland and four against the United States in the past year. Should they win their group, they will then face the runners up of Group H in the Last 16 of the competition, which we expect to be a Colombia side who conceded over a goal per game in qualifying.
The 24 year old has 30 goals in 63 appearances for Belgium, which isn’t a bad record at his age. However, it doesn’t do his recent displays any justice whatsoever. He has scored ten goals in his last six international appearances, and is coming into this World Cup on the back of his highest scoring club campaign ever with 26 goals for Manchester United. Considering their attacking brand of football, their group matches, and their potential knockout round ties it’s easy to see Lukaku bagging a fair few goals in Russia, so we think he’s a great value for the Golden Boot at odds of around 20/1.
Thomas Muller at 33/1 Each Way
Germany come into the 2018 World Cup as second favourites and reigning champions after their success in Brazil four years ago. That iconic Mario Gotze goal in the final in extra time wrapped up the most prestigious trophy in world football, but the real story of the tournament was their 7-1 demolition of hosts and pre-tournament favourites Brazil. It was one of the biggest shocks in recent World Cup memory, and the man who started that rout was none other than Thomas Muller.
The versatile Bayern Munich attacker hasn’t had a great goalscoring season by his own high standards, but he has chipped in with 15 competitive goals for the Bundesliga champions and added 16 assists to that record too. His recent form isn’t what makes Muller such an attractive pick for the Golden Boot though.
Aged just 28, Muller is preparing to take to the field in his third World Cup this summer, and he is one of those players that comes into his own under the flag of Germany. He has scored 38 goals in 90 appearances for his nation, despite rarely being utilised as an out and out striker. An impressive ten of these goals have come in the World Cup finals, with him scoring five goals in each of his two tournaments.
This, along with his three assists, was enough to earn him the Golden Boot in South Africa in 2010, where he also won the Best Young Player award. In 2014 he was outscored by James Rodriguez of Colombia, but still came away with the Silver Boot award and made it into the World Cup All Star XI. He truly is a player who thrives on the big stage, and at prices as high as 33/1 he looks fantastic value considering Germany’s high chances of a deep run in the tournament.
Edinson Cavani at 25/1 Each Way
Uruguay aren’t top of many people’s list to progress very far into the World Cup, but in the pursuit of the Golden Boot that doesn’t always matter too much. In fact, only one of the last eight World Cup Golden Boot’s has been won by a player who played for the eventual winners of the tournament (Ronaldo/Brazil in 1998).
In the case of Edinson Cavani and Uruguay, it’s all about the group stages. They have been drawn in arguably the easiest group of the lot and will face off against host nation Russia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in June. Russia have shipped three goals in each of their last three games, whilst Saudi Arabia have conceded four against Belgium and Iraq in recent matches. The South Americans will surely fancy their chances of getting a few goals against their Group A opponents.
Their chances are improved further by the fact they were the second highest goalscorers in the tough South American World Cup Qualifying group, netting 32 goals in their 18 games. Cavani got ten of these, making him the top scorer in that qualifying section and taking his tally to 42 goals in 100 appearances in the white and blue of Uruguay.
Cavani’s chances of netting a few in the group stages look high, and we can see from previous Golden Boot winners that this is a key factor. In each of the last four World Cups at least half of the Golden Boot winner’s total goals haul have come in the three group matches, with James Rodriguez getting three in 2014 and Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose, and Ronaldo scoring four apiece in their group matches.
Admittedly Cavani does have Luis Suarez to contend with, but the PSG striker’s recent form for Uruguay makes him a worthwhile bet. He has scored in four of their last five matches and comes into this tournament having scored 28 Ligue 1 goals this season. Given he is actually longer odds with most bookies than Suarez to take home the award, we think he’s a great value offering.
Isco at 66/1 Each Way
Looking to reclaim the World Cup trophy that they lost four years ago, Spain come into this tournament as our favourites to win in Julen Lopetegui’s first major tournament at the helm.
Vicente del Bosque’s successor has had two years to mould the talented Spain players into his own style of play, which just so happens to be similar to that of del Bosque’s dominant era that began a decade ago. It’s easy to see why they play this way – their abundance of midfield talent makes it very difficult to leave certain players out, and the versatility of the likes of David Silva, Andres Iniesta, and Isco make them perfect candidates for a free role.
Back in 2012 Vicente del Bosque turned heads in the footballing world when his Spain squad lined up for their Euro 2012 opener without a recognised striker on the pitch. David Silva was preferred in a ‘False 9’ position instead, and whilst Lopetegui has favoured playing a striker for the most part that reliance on the midfield is very clear.
Isco has scored ten goals in 27 appearances for Spain and bagged a hat trick against Argentina back in March. He is an integral part of a squad we believe can lift the World Cup this summer, and at odds as high as 66/1 we feel like he’s an excellent choice for a dark horse winner.