A Few Long Shots For The World Cup Golden Boot

The World Cup is already off to a fairly entertaining start. We’ve seen a few top contenders struggle early, which means a few underdogs have had thrilling results so far. Most notably, Iceland managed to hold Argentina to a 1-1 draw and on Sunday, Mexico beat Germany in what may well hold up as the biggest upset of the entire tournament (and one that caused actual seismic activity in Mexico). The most noteworthy performance to date, however, was Cristiano Ronaldo’s one-man show against Spain. Though he benefitted from a penalty kick (one well-earned) and one awful, uncharacteristic mistake by Spanish keeper David de Gea, Ronaldo effectively drew the Spaniards by himself, pulling Portugal even at 3-3 with an absolutely sensational free kick finish late in the match.

That the most exciting thing to happen so far in this Cup was a hat-trick from the world’s deadliest goalscorer is no accident. We tend to get carried away in the early days of the Cup making predictions about which teams will move on, or who might win it all. But often it’s almost just as fun keeping track of which players are doing the best individually. This is something that’s written about throughout the tournament, and it’s also one of the most popular betting options aside from match and group outcomes. Sports betting opportunities cover a lot of different events, and for the World Cup, the race for the top goalscorer in the tournament is one of the busiest of them.

Right now, naturally, those odds favour Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa. Both players would be in the mix for these top odds anyway, but after they managed a combined five goals in Portugal vs. Spain match (Costa adding two of his own), they’re off to a head start. Nevertheless, for those who might enjoy keeping track of this sort of thing we figured we’d list a few of the less obvious choices for potential Golden Boot glory (beyond the two just mentioned and the likes of Leo Messi, Neymar, Harry Kane, and Timo Werner).

It’s not a comprehensive list, but do keep your eyes on these players if you’re interested in top scorers….

Gabriel Jesus – Gabriel Jesus gets very little attention relative to countryman Neymar, and it’s understandable. But he could well be next in line for the unofficial title of best player in Brazil, and at times he can be every bit as threatening to find the back of the net. Neither Neymar nor Gabriel Jesus scored in Brazil’s opener, but either could catch fire.

Robert Lewandowski – Typically the strongest scorers line up rather well with the best teams. Plus, these are the teams likely to go deepest in any World Cup, meaning top players will get more opportunities to score. But don’t overlook Robert Lewandowski of Poland. For one thing, he’s one of the best scorers on the planet. For another, Poland stands a very good chance of advancing in a Group H that includes Senegal, Colombia, and Japan.

Kylian Mbappé – Antoine Griezmann gets most of the attention where French goalscoring is concerned, and he did notch his first goal in a penalty in France’s 2-1 win over Australia already. But Kylian Mbappé, who looks to be starting on the right wing for France in its 4-3-3 formation, will get scoring chances and maybe even more talented than Griezmann (or likely super-sub Olivier Giroud) at finishing opportunities.

Isco – Where Portugal is concerned, there really isn’t another candidate to look at beyond Ronaldo. In the case of Spain, however, Isco would seem to have a legitimate chance to catch up to or exceed Diego Costa’s goal total over the course of this tournament. Coming in from the left wing in Spain’s aggressive 4-3-3, he’ll have his opportunities – perhaps even more now that Costa has shown enough to be a major defensive focal point.

Radamel Falcao – Colombia’s star forward didn’t get to play in Brazil in 2014 as he recovered from injury, and the team did quite well without him. The Colombians are expected to be tough again this time, but will now have Falcao – arguably their best player – to spark the offence. Should he make the most of the opportunity and propel his team to another deep run, he could also find himself in the Golden Boot mix.

Temitope, an ardent soccer fan. I may be based in Lagos but I watch as much European football as I can. I've been writing about football for several years, You may have seen my work on The Football Weeks and Its Round and Its White. I'm also a keen music fan