With the start of the World Cup only two weeks away, anticipation is reaching a fever pitch. The World Cup market only opens to bettors once every four years, but it is a rich one.
One of the most popular World Cup bets is always the top scorer. Compared to past years, it might appear as though a smaller group of players are in contention for top goalscorer. However, a winning bet requires you to look at history as well as current form to come out on top. You may want to wait until the opening rounds are done with to place a bet, although the odds will be shorter by then.
A look back at the last 12 tournaments since 1970 will tell you which are the most relevant trends and how to pick a top scorer.
Pick a Player Who Will Make the Semifinals
Of the 16 Golden Boot winners across the last 12 tournaments, only 3 came from teams that didn’t make the semifinals. They were Gary Lineker (England 1986), Oleg Salenko (Russia 1994) and James Rodriguez (Colombia 2014).
Eight Golden Boot winners were knocked out in the semis, while four played for teams who won the trophy. One top scorer since 1970 played for the runners up.
It’s only logical – the further a player goes in the tournament, the more games they play. Thus, they have a higher chance to score more goals in teams that are good enough to progress. If you want to win big, favour players who are likely to play in the semifinals.
Again, this is a logical conclusion but it’s worth noting all the same. You may be tempted by an outside bet on a goalscoring midfielder, with the longer odds they will have. However, in all reality the Golden Boot winner is most likely to be a striker.
Only 3 of the last 16 top scorers have been players whose primary job wasn’t to score goals. Recent exceptions include Holland’s Wesley Sneijder in 2010 and Colombia’s James Rodriguez in 2014.
As the world’s best player playing for one of the favourites in Argentina, Lionel Messi will be a popular bet. While safe, this bet at 9/1 won’t make you a lot of money.
Cristiano Ronaldo is an equally deadly goalscorer. Ronaldo is 12/1 to win the Golden Boot due to playing with the less-fancied Portugal. Portugal are not a great team on paper, but they did win the Euros and they might surprise again in the World Cup.
At 14/1, Romelu Lukaku could showcase his obvious talent on the world stage and win the Golden Boot. He plays for a Belgium team for whom it is now or never. Belgium are in the middle of their golden generation and if Lukaku is to perform in the World Cup, it’s going to be this year.
For even longer odds, look towards Thomas Muller and Kylian Mbappe, each at 33/1. Muller was top scorer in 2010 and plays for a ridiculously talented German side who are tipped to win it again.
As for Mbappe, the young star finished his PSG season in fine form. France have one of the most talented squads in the tournament and are sure to play brilliant football. If Didier Deschamps chooses him as his number one striker, he could explode in Russia.