World Cup 2014: Who Will Win the Golden Boot?
Guest post from @JamesMartin013
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I’m back! As you may have noticed from my rather straightforward, pun-free title to this piece, I’m somewhat rusty when it comes to football writing: I’ve been busy with exams. Those are out of the way now though, so I have 10 weeks ahead of writing to my heart’s content.
But enough about me, let’s move on to what you all actually care about- football! I’m taking a break from articles about Liverpool to bring you my views on the World Cup, which, in case you’re reading this having just woken up from a coma, is currently taking place in Brazil. Almost two full rounds of fixtures have now been played, and the question of who might win the golden boot can start to be seriously considered.
First up on the list of potential winners is the man who got the award at the last World Cup- Thomas Muller. No player has ever won back-to-back golden boots, so it would be an extremely impressive achievement. He certainly started the tournament in a way that made many people view him as favourite; he bagged a hat-trick in Germany’s first game, a 4-0 win over Portugal. He also looked bright in their match against Ghana, but failed to find the back of the net, meaning he remains on 3 goals for the tournament. The only reason I wouldn’t look upon him as the out-and-out favourite is because of his versatility. Although he is deadly in a centre-forward position, he isn’t always played there. For example, against Ghana, Muller moved wide midway through the second half to accommodate the 2006 golden boot winner Miroslav Klose. Though undoubtedly still effective from the flanks, he is more likely to notch assists than goals.
Another front runner is Robin Van Persie. He too has found the back of the net three times so far, including one sensational diving header against Spain. The 5-1 win against the world champions flattered the Netherlands somewhat, but there is no denying that they look capable of progressing to at least the quarter-finals in the tournament and possibly further. As such, it seems likely that Van Persie will have plenty more opportunities to score goals, and having been released from the shackles of David Moyes he is free to show just what he is capable of. He will probably fancy his chances of taking home the golden boot, but he faces stiff opposition.
Some of this opposition comes from within his own team. Arjen Robben is another man who has scored 3 in the tournament so far, and frankly he is looking deadly. His one-footed nature has been well-documented, but with his electric pace he can usually make himself enough time to switch the ball to his excellent left foot. For his club, Bayern Munich, Robben is played as a winger. Indeed, this is the position he has played throughout most of his club career. For the Netherlands, he plays a slightly different role. We have seen him play alongside Van Persie as a second striker at this tournament, and he is thriving. The only real question mark over Robben is whether his pace alone will be enough to get him goals at the business end of the tournament, although the fact that it was enough to totally bamboozle the defence of the reigning champions indicates that his pace will serve him well against any opposition.
Reluctantly, I also include Brazilian star Neymar in this list. Personally I don’t think that he’ll win the golden boot, but he’s found the net twice so far and the people of Brazil are pinning their hopes on him to deliver the goods. His two goals so far have been a badly hit but well-placed long ranged effort and a penalty that shouldn’t have been given in the first place- not exactly inspiring stuff, but the golden boot is for quantity of goals, not quality. Still, there’s only so many lucky breaks that one player can get, so if Neymar is to win it he will have to up his game. Add to this the fact that he’s not actually a striker (he plays behind Fred), and his chances of winning the award look slim.
Editor: Since James penned this article Neymar has another 2 goals 😉
The next two players to come under consideration are very much outsiders when it comes to winning the award, not because of their lack of goal-scoring prowess but because of the teams for which they play. I have written about the wizardry in front of goal of a certain Mr Luis Suarez more than most, but Uruguay have an uphill struggle to get out of the group stage: they have to beat Italy in order to progress. If Suarez does feature in the knockouts, he is sure to keep scoring and has as good a chance as any of winning the golden boot. He has the best goals to games ratio of anyone in the tournament, playing just one game and scoring twice. The other player who gets a brief nod of recognition in relation to the award is Enner Valencia of Ecuador. He is a classic poacher, and has already nabbed 3 goals for his country at the tournament. However, to guarantee their place in the last 16, Ecuador have to beat France, which looks rather unlikely.
One man who the Ecuadorians will be particularly wary of when facing the French is my favourite for the award, Karim Benzema. He too has a goal tally of 3 so far, and has looked extremely dangerous in front of goal. He could have been on 5 by this stage- one of France’s goals against Honduras came from the keeper parrying a Benzema shot into the net, but it went down as an own goal, and he also saw his penalty saved by Benaglio against the Swiss. He often plays as the lone striker for France, so he gets the lion’s share of the chances, and he is extremely adept at taking them. He is a player who tends to score in bursts, and from what we’ve seen so far he appears to have hit a good vein of form at the perfect time for his country. France have looked formidable so far at this World Cup, and the further they progress the more chances Benzema will get. I think that he is on track to become the first Frenchman to win the award since Just Fontaine in 1958.
The fact that these 7 players can all be considered well and truly in the running for the award shows just how open and exciting this World Cup has been so far. Indeed, there are many huge names I haven’t even mentioned. None of Aguero, Messi and Ronaldo even made the list, though one would have to be a fool to entirely discount such stars of the sport from winning the golden boot. All in all though, based purely on what we’ve seen so far, I think that Benzema is the most likely to score the most goals and take home the award.
About the Author
James Martin is a huge football fan as well as a keen blogger. Based in Maidenhead, but as passionate about Liverpool as any scouser!
Follow him on Twitter @JamesMartin013 !!