Updated: Nov 15, 2022
The World Cup is almost upon us, albeit in a somewhat strange manner, taking place in winter for the first time in history.
While many will be casting their eyes on the betting lines for the winner, I always like to put my hard-earned cash on the player who will score the most goals, the illustrious “Golden Boot” winner.
However, going for the favorite is not my style. The great Pele, for example, never won a Golden Boot in his career.
So instead, I like to balance risk with reward and try to always seek out the players with value.
Let’s rewind back to the summer of 1998, this was the first time I watched a World Cup from start to finish.
I remember the favorite was Ronaldo of Brazil, regarded as the best player in the world at that time (and later established himself as one of the GOATs).
I had other ideas, a Croatian center forward, playing at club level for the mighty Real Madrid, stood out for me, his name was Davor Šuker.
Going back another 2 years to EURO 96, hosted by England, this was the tournament that made me a football fan, I didn’t miss a kick. This is also where I first saw Šuker play.
I had read that he had a then-record 12 goals in 10 matches during the qualifying, so I was intrigued to watch him.
Sure enough, he scored a sublime chip over the head of the then-best goalkeeper on the planet, Peter Schmeichel.
Šuker grabbed 3 goals overall and was named in the Team Of The Tournament.
Fast forward 2 years, he was going to be my outside-the-favorite guy to have a great chance to win the Golden Boot at France ‘98.
Sure enough, he did! Scoring 6 goals and seeing off competition from Argentina’s Gabriel Batistuta and Italy’s Christian Vieri. My Golden Boot journey had well and truly begun.
So let’s shift focus, what do I look for in a Golden Boot contender? I like to base my pick on several factors.
The form is, of course, a big one. The attacking intent of the team in which they play also is a factor.
Then perhaps most importantly for me, player morale, more specifically, how confident I think they are feeling if I put myself in their shoes.
This would lead me to single out 5 players, and below I explain my reasons for each pick.
I have excluded the 2 favorites, Harry Kane & Kylian Mbappe, as the target here is to find the potential value and not just pick the chalk.
World Cup Golden Boot Odds
|Benzema|| 12/1 UK|
| 12/1 UK|
| 12/1 UK|
|Neymar|| 9/1 UK|
| 12/1 UK|
| 12/1 UK|
|Mitrović|| 50/1 UK|
| 66/1 UK|
| 60/1 UK|
|Messi|| 10/1 UK|
| 12/1 UK|
| 12/1 UK|
|Ronaldo|| 16/1 UK|
| 16/1 UK|
| 14/1 UK|
Cristiano Ronaldo – Best Odds +1600
At 37 years of age, the Portuguese legend Ronaldo will likely be playing in his last ever World Cup.
His current domestic troubles with Manchester United have cast a shadow over his profile recently.
But the world’s leading goalscorer in international football history (117 and counting in 189 matches) was the joint-top scorer at Euro 2020.
He will be on a mission to win the most illustrious prize of them all, the World Cup.
Ronaldo is averaging 3.65 shots per 90 mins this season with an xG per 90 (expected goals) of 0.53.
Lionel Messi – Best Odds +1200
A similar story to Ronaldo above, Messi has also hinted this will be his last World Cup, and the one thing that has eluded him in his career is this trophy.
I put him ahead of Ronaldo on this selection due to his current strong form with PSG.
Messi’s confidence is high, he plays in an attacking Argentina side, who, for the first time in his career, is up to his high standards (35-games unbeaten) and will surely be buzzing for this trip to Qatar.
Messi is averaging 3.79 shots per game and an xG of 0.53.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – Best Odds +6600
A case could be made for compatriot Dusan Vlahovic, but there remain questions about his starting place in the team, so the in-form Mitrovic takes my 3rd place spot.
Serbia is a side that could come up as a surprise performer in this World Cup, and Mitrovic could well be the man who provides the goals.
His aggressive style of play should go far to help his team, and he is averaging 3.75 shots per game with an xG of 0.73, more than Golden Boot’s favorite Harry Kane (0.59).
If Serbia goes on a good run in this World Cup, Mitrovic will be a key part.
Neymar – Best Odds +1200
Neymar is in top form for PSG and plays for the World Cup favorites and attacking monsters Brazil.
His attacking stats are off the charts, but it does remain to be seen if Brazil will share the goals around the attackers.
His xG of 0.49 is strong, and he is involved in most of Brazil’s attacking play.
Karim Benzema – Best Odds +1200
My pick for the Golden Boot is Karim Benzema of France. For me, he ticks all the boxes.
Benzema is in scorching form for Real Madrid, scoring 42 times last season as they won La Liga and the Champions League.
His confidence will be sky high as he has just won the Ballon D’Or, the first French international to win it since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
Benzema is averaging 4.05 shots per 90 mins and has an xG of a whopping 0.82 goals per game.
His teammate Kylian Mbappe will draw a lot of money, but Benzema massively outscored him at Euro 2020 (4-0), and Mbappe’s creativity could actually help Benzema on his quest rather than hinder him.
The key caveat here is which France’s side will turn up to this World Cup. They are the defending champions but have not been in their best form recently.
An in-form France could very well see Karim Benzema pick up the Golden Boot for Qatar 2022.
About the author
Huge sports fan with a passion for the English Premier League in particular. Mike loves to problem solve, get creative and learn new skills