There are two leading candidates to claim the World Cup 2022 Golden Ball, but there is still time for any of their rivals to make the award their own in the final two rounds of the competition.
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the best-rated online sportsbooks bettors see this as a two-horse race between two of the modern game’s great players. Kylian Mbappe has been outstanding for France and is the narrow favorite with some bookmakers at +110 but Argentine legend Lionel Messi is not far behind at +125 and some bookmakers have them as joint favorites. There is a lot of confusion among the bookmakers outside the top two, with Luka Modric, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud all quoted at low four figure odds.
|Golden Ball Winner|
World Cup Top Player Betting Briefing
The Golden Ball, awarded to the World Cup’s top player, is the most subjective of the three main individual awards given out at the tournament. While the Golden Boot is decided entirely on number of goals scored and the Golden Glove is judged by a technical committee relying partially on statistics, the Golden Ball is voted on by media representatives, using a shortlist provided by FIFA.
There have been ten editions of the award so far and there are some interesting patterns to note. Eight of the ten came from teams that reached the final, while all ten winners came from teams in the last four.
Seven of the ten were forwards, with one goalkeeper and two midfielders winning the award. Interestingly, only three of the ten also won one of the other big individual awards. Paolo Rossi in 1982 and Salvatore Schillaci in 1990 were also Golden Boot winners, while Oliver Kahn landed the even rarer double of Golden Ball and Golden Glove in 2002.
Mbappe Leads the French Charge
The World Cup holders France is once again the favorite to win the famous golden trophy and it is their star striker Kylian Mbappe who leads the charge.
Mbappe was in sparkling form in the opening two games of the Group stage, scoring once against Australia and single-handedly demolishing Denmark in the second game. He was once again to the fore against Poland in the Round of 16, scoring another two, although England kept him relatively quiet in the quarter-final and Olivier Giroud closed the gap on the goalscoring front.
Giroud may yet overtake Mbappe in the goalscoring stakes, but is an unlikely winner of the Golden Ball, given Mbappe’s greater contribution to the team and none of the other French contenders has performed well enough throughout the tournament so far to seriously rival Mbappe.
Messi Stands Alone for Argentina
Lionel Messi is already guaranteed to be remembered as one of the greats of the game, but he is determined to mark the latter stage of his career with a World Cup win for his nation and he has certainly been at the forefront in this World Cup. In fact, he stands almost alone for Argentina when it comes to the Golden Ball market, with Enzo Fernandez the closest to him in the betting at +4900.
Messi has been instrumental throughout the tournament, scoring and creating crucial goals to help Argentina navigate a difficult path to the semi-finals. But he hasn’t been as eye-catching as Mbappe and his French rival has the advantage of playing for the tournament favorites, so Messi doesn’t have much appeal at odds that are very close to Mbappe’s.
Other Golden Ball Contenders
There are some interesting contenders from Morocco in this market, including Sofram Amrabat, Yassine Bounou and Achraf Hakimi, but while all three have had memorable moments, none have shown the kind of consistent form that wins this award, and from this point, it would need something extraordinary for them to surpass the front two.
The same cannot be said for the Croatian contenders. Luka Modric, the 2018 winner of this award, has not grabbed the headlines as much as Mbappe, but he has been pivotal to Croatia’s chances, and has two Player of the Match awards to his name.
His experience and ability to control a game will be crucial to Croatia’s progression and if he can play in another final, he will have the chance to eclipse Mbappe and Giroud directly. Dominik Livakovic may also have that opportunity. The current favorite for the Golden Glove award, his contribution has matched that of Modric’s and if Croatia gets through the semi-finals stage, Livakovic is a real contender to become only the second man to win Golden Glove and Golden Ball awards at the same World Cup.