There are plenty of contenders for the Golden Boot award at the 2022 World Cup but Brazilian star Neymar offers good value in this market.
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the best-rated online sportsbooks, there are two clear favorites among World Cup bettors in the Golden Boot market. Kylian Mbappe of France and England’s Harry Kane are clear of the rest, although sportsbooks are undecided about which should be the favorite. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are rated around +1200 while there has been some support for younger stars such as Vinicius Jr, Gabriel Jesus and Lautaro Martinez.
World Cup Golden Boot Betting Briefing
Formerly known as the Golden Shoe, the status of top goalscorer at the World Cup has risen in prestige over the years and is now considered a major award in the soccer world.
Since it was officially recognized as a trophy in its own right in 1982, the Golden Boot winner has generally scored 6 goals or more. The two exceptions came in 2006 when Miroslav Klose won with five goals and in 2014 when Thomas Muller finished level with David Villa and Wesley Sneijder on five goals but was given the award as he had contributed more assists.
Important factors to consider when betting on this market include checking with your bookmaker on what happens if there is a tie, as in 2014. Are all bets paid out in full? Is the market declared void? Do they follow the rules of 2014 and count assists as a tiebreaker?
Another point to remember is that the top goalscorer in the tournament rarely comes from the winning team. Eight of the last ten Golden Boot winners have been from teams that did not win the trophy. Six of those teams did, however, make the semi-finals, so it is a good idea to focus on players from teams with the ability to reach the latter stages and be wary of prolific strikers from lesser soccer nations.
Are Mbappe and Kane Worthy Golden Boot Favorites?
Mbappe maybe, Kane no. Kylian Mbappe is at his peak. He is still hungry, he is still, frighteningly, capable of getting better and has finished as Ligue 1 top scorer four years in a row. And that is on a team that also features Neymar and Lionel Messi. He is also consistent for France, averaging a goal every other game.
The question mark is whether he will be able to outscore Karim Benzema, who is more of an out-and-out goalscorer, and who will be in the main striking role for his country.
Given the short odds, Mbappe projects as potentially poor value, and the same can definitely be said for Harry Kane. The 2018 Golden Boot winner benefited from a straightforward Group and while England’s opponents this time round are not too demanding, Kane is considerably slower even than 2018, and has tended to drop deeper in recent months, while England’s poor form is a problem.
Can Messi or Ronaldo Win the Golden Boot?
Neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi has ever won the World Cup or the Golden Boot. Both would opt for the former over the latter, but if they can’t get their hands on the World Cup trophy, being recognized as top scorer would be welcome compensation.
Both will be playing at their last World Cup and although Ronaldo has been the better international performer, Messi has been catching up. Of the two modern greats, Messi looks the better bet as he has never looked as motivated for international football as he does at the moment and Argentina have a better chance than Portugal of getting to the semi-finals.
Brazil Has Multiple Golden Boot Candidates
A quick glance at the top scorer markets shows that Brazil are dominating the betting with four contenders in the top fifteen. Neymar, Vinicius Jr., Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison are all capable of scoring prolifically and Rapinha could also be in the Golden Boot conversation.
Generally, when a team has that many goalscoring options, the contenders cancel one another out, but in this case, there is one contender that looks more interesting than the rest. Neymar is still the star of the team, and while he will benefit from the other forwards occupying defenders, he remains the go-to forward. He was Brazil’s top scorer in the qualifying tournament and is the first-choice penalty taker. Brazil are the tournament favorites, with the potential to score a hatful and Neymar will get the biggest share.
Other Contenders for the Golden Boot
As mentioned above, Benzema will be sharing goalscoring duties with Mbappe and I’m inclined to look elsewhere, particularly given France’s history of allowing individuals to derail the team effort.
Robert Lewandowski is one of Europe’s best-ever strikers but Poland don’t look like a team that could go deep in the tournament, and the same applies to Aleksandr Mitrovic of Serbia. Spain’s Alvaro Morata will be keen to make a mark at his first World Cup, and Lautaro Martinez of Argentina is also an interesting contender, but if you’re looking for other contenders at a bigger price, Memphis Depay could be the answer.
Depay has scored 42 goals in 81 games for the Netherlands and they have a good draw with opportunities to pile up the goals against Ecuador and Qatar. He was joint top-scorer in the UEFA tournament and the Netherlands have a shot of getting to the quarter-finals at least.
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