2018 FIFA World Cup Betting – Who Will Be Top Goal Scorer?
Published on May 22, 2018
One of my favorite betting markets at big international soccer tournaments is always the one for the top goal scorer. The odds are usually high, and there are some dark horses that represent solid value.
The FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia is no exception, with several players having a realistic chance of winning the Golden Boot this year. Who will follow in the footsteps of greats such as Ronaldo, Miroslav Klose, and Gary Lineker?
As much I like betting on this market, I should point out that predicting the top scorer is no easy task. It’s not a simple case of picking the best offensive player at the tournament, as there are numerous factors to consider.
We have to study a player’s current form, his role in the team, the opposition he’s going to face, and plenty of other variables.
I’m not afraid of a challenge, though! With the start of the tournament now just a few weeks away, it’s time to take a look at the options and see where the value lies.
Here are my current thoughts on the players most likely to have a prolific World Cup.
Before moving on to some actual players and odds, I believe it’s a good idea to expand on my method of evaluation. As mentioned, there are multiple factors to look at when trying to pick the top scorer at an international soccer tournament. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
Obviously, the player’s performance on a club level during the past year is a good indicator of his chance to score goals during the World Cup, too. I take a look at the whole season or so, but also at the shorter trend of the last couple of months before the tournament.
When studying the most recent form, it’s important to take context into account. A player might have had injury or fatigue issues, for example, or been part of a team with very little to play for towards the end of the season.
These things might affect a player’s form, but they wouldn’t necessarily affect my overall view.
A lot of players are used in a different way in their national side than they are in their club side. It depends on the squad, the system, and sometimes even the personal relationship with the coach.
For example, a player could be a striker at club level but play on the wing for his country. This can make a lot of difference to how they perform and the goals they are expected to score.
The numbers don’t lie, and some players simply can’t stop scoring for their country. If a player has consistently scored goals on the international stage, then that’s obviously a major positive for their chances during a tournament.
Of course, the opposite can also be true. Some players are very productive at club level but for whatever reason just don’t reproduce for their national side.
If a player takes the penalties for his country, that’s a big plus. If you take a look at previous tournaments, you will often see that the top scorer had a boost to his tally from a penalty or two.
Sometimes, a player facing weaker opposition in the group stages might get a few goals early on. This gives them an obvious advantage over players who are up against tougher opponents.
Obviously, the guys who reach the later stages of the tournaments will play more games and will have more time to score goals. Usually, the top scorer comes from a team that reached at least the quarterfinals.
As you can see, there are a lot of aspects that should be taken into account. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the favorites.
If you are one of the best players to ever grace the game, it’s only natural to be one of the favorites for a top scorer in the World Cup. In 2014, Lionel Messi scored 4 times and was third in the rankings. He was basically the only consistent provider of goals for Argentina.
Despite the huge pool of attacking talent in the country, the situation is similar in 2018. in Russia. He is scoring most of the goals for Argentina, he’s taking the penalties, and the whole system revolves around him.
For a start, Argentina is a shaky and unpredictable team. No one knows how far they will go. A quick look at the group shows the teams of Croatia, Iceland, and Nigeria.
In my opinion, this is one of the most unpredictable groups. None of the games for Argentina will be a walkover. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the South American giant doesn’t qualify for the next stage.
This is why I don’t think there’s enough value in the price of 10 for Messi to be the top scorer.
The skipper of Brazil and Messi’s former teammate Neymar is the other player priced 10.00. This makes perfect sense, as the role of the Brazilian is very similar. He is the main attacking force for Brazil, and he takes the penalties.
Funny enough, Neymar also had 4 goals in 2014, but he got injured and played 2 games less than Messi. He will be eager to keep scoring, and he is in exceptional shape. I would say he has the potential to be among the stars of the tournament.
When it comes to Brazil’s chances, they certainly can go deep in the tournament. The only problem is that Neymar is in a tough group as well. Costa Rica, Switzerland, and Serbia are all tough teams to beat. They also rely on a tight defense. I can see Neymar scoring in the group stage, but I don’t expect him to go wild.
I’m a bit on the fence on this one, but I believe the price is about right. In an easier group, a bet on Neymar would’ve been a no-brainer.
Now, this is where things get really interesting. Antoine Griezmann is an exceptional player, and he has been scoring for fun for both France and Atletico Madrid in the past couple of years. He is one of the first names on Didier Deschamps’s team sheet.
On top of that, he takes the penalties for France, and the whole system is set up to accommodate Griezmann. The little forward is paired with a guy like Olivier Giroud, who draws the defenders and creates space for Griezmann to exploit.
When it comes to the team’s chances, France is among the favorites in the FIFA 2018 World Cup. I’m pretty sure they will go far in the competition. Their group is somewhat balanced, but not as competitive as those of Brazil and Argentina.
Link to “Most Likely Winners of the FIFA World Cup blog post” (not currently published but will be when is)
Australia, Denmark, and Peru are all teams that France should be able to beat. In fact, the European powerhouse has the potential to trash at least one of them.
So far, Antoine Griezmann is the first player who ticks all the boxes. He’s definitely in with an excellent chance of winning the Golden Boot.
Another player who is priced similarly to Griezmann is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward is one of the best goal scorers in the modern history of the game. He holds multiple records both on a club and an international level.
More importantly, the whole system of Portugal is “give it to Ronaldo and he will shoot.” The Real Madrid forward was the player with most shots during Euro 2016, and this is completely possible in Russia, too.
However, he has not always been efficient for his national side. Despite , he scored just two goals. If Ronaldo doesn’t find his shooting boots, this could be a problem.
The thing is, Portugal is in a group with Iran and Morocco. This makes them a huge favorite to go through, and I can definitely see Ronaldo bagging a couple against one or two of those teams. If you add the fact that he’s the penalty taker for Portugal, a price of 15 seems like a good choice.
There is no doubt that Harry Kane is one of the best forwards in the world recently. He has scored over 30 goals in three consecutive seasons for Tottenham Hotspur.
There are rumors that the biggest club in Europe wants him, and there’s no surprise in that.
Considering the overall performance of the country, I suppose that’s to be expected. The nation has failed to deliver on the big stage ever since winning the World Cup in 1966. The current team is also not much better.
Sure, England does play in a group with Panama and Tunisia, but the pressure usually gets the better of the team. Kane could be a contender, but the risk is too high for me to place a wager on odds of around 16.00.
There are a couple of other players that seem interesting, but I can’t seem to find more value. For example, the Germans are always dangerous and should reach the quarters, at least.
However, they don’t have a typical scorer that could be backed. Timo Werner is the closest thing to such a forward, but he’s far too young.
Players like Diego Costa, Gabriel Jesus, and Luis Suarez will probably score some goals, but I can’t see them doing it often enough. If you insist on backing a long shot, I would suggest going for James Rodriguez, who’s priced at 50.
The Colombian was the top scorer in 2014, and his country has a rather decent group. They will face Poland, Senegal, and Japan. If James and his team manage to recreate the form from 2014, he has a shot.
After careful evaluation of the most valuable options, I would say splitting your wagers between Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo is the best approach. Both of them are the cornerstone of their teams, take penalties, and should reach the knockout stages.
If you want to have some fun with an underdog, James Rodriguez is the one that makes sense to me.