Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku or someone else? Who will win the race for the Golden Boot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup?
Several superstar strikers have blazed a trail of destruction through the World Cup so far and the Golden Boot race looks fiercely competitive. Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez finished as top scorer at the last World Cup with six goals, but that tally is likely to be annihilated this time around.
England’s Harry Kane has already banged in five goals in just two games, and several big names are hot on his heels. Here are the leading contenders for the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup:
The England captain is a poacher extraordinaire and he proved that by heading in twice from close range as the Three Lions beat Tunisia in their opener. His teammates were wasteful in front of goal, but Kane was lethal. His movement is extraordinary and he has an uncanny knack of finding space in the box, getting in dangerous positions and proving to be a magnet for the ball.
His predatory instincts mean he can finish with both feet and his head, and he will be exceptionally dangerous going forward in the World Cup. This tournament is likely to set a record for the number of penalties awarded, and Kane is devastating from the spot. He thundered in two spot kicks against Panama en route to scoring a hat-trick, and he stands a great chance of seizing the Golden Ball.
The hulking Belgian forward is right in the mix for the Golden Boot in the World Cup spread betting at Sporting Index after hitting four goals in two games. He benefits from superb service from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens, and is the focal point of an electrifying Belgian attack.
They play exciting football under Roberto Martinez, taking risks and committing men forward in pursuit of goals at all times, even if it leaves them exposed at the back. It has resulted in a 3-0 win against Panama and a 5-2 victory over Tunisia, with Lukaku bagging a brace in each game.
He has displayed the full range of his skills, from dinked finishes and delicate chips to powerful drives and bullet headers. Belgium should go deep into this tournament, and Lukaku will terrorise defences throughout.
The World Player of the Year dazzled football fans across the globe with a sensational hat-trick against Spain in Portugal’s opening group game. He was lively and dangerous throughout the match, and he won a penalty early on. The Real Madrid superstar stepped up to take it, and there was no doubt he would slam it past David De Gea and into the net. He duly delivered, and then embarrassed De Gea with a long range strike, but he saved the best for last.
With his team trailing 3-2 in the dying minutes, Ronaldo stepped up to take a free-kick from distance and the world held its breath. He strode forward and nonchalantly curled an exquisite strike past De Gea, who remained motionless, sending his countrymen into fits of ecstasy.
Ronaldo scored after just six minutes of Portugal’s second game, and they held on for a 1-0 win. But he surprised everyone by missing a penalty against Morroco, and he has now gone almost 180 minutes without a goal, so he needs to buck his ideas up in the knockout stage of the tournament if he is to overhaul Kane.
Several big name strikers have struggled at the tournament, from Robert Lewandowski to Edinson Cavani, but Costa has lived up to his reputation. He scored twice in that 3-3 draw with Spain, and he was unfortunate to be upstaged by Ronaldo. He added to his tally against Iran, cementing his status as a real contender for the Golden Boot. Costa is a bulldozer of a centre-forward and he has done really well to create space for himself to score in this tournament.
Like Kane, he is also a great poacher and he should enjoy plenty more good service from the likes of Isco and Andres Iniesta in this tournament. However, he was hauled off with Spain drawing 1-1 with Morocco in their last game, failing to add to his tally of three. If Spain can get out of second gear in the knockout stage of the tournament, Costa should thrive.
Cheryshev did not even start Russia’s first game, but he is now in the top five scorers of the tournament so far. He came on for the injured Alan Dzagoev in the first half against Saudi Arabia and scored two superb goals. The second was a thing of beauty as he shimmied into the box and bent an unstoppable strike with the outside of his right boot straight into the top corner.
He followed it up with another goal as Russia beat Egypt 3-0 and excitement abounded among the home fans regarding their team’s prospects. But Cheryshev’s sole contribution of note in Russia’s final group game, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Uruguay, was an own-goal, and they most certainly do not count in the Golden Boot stakes.
A few dangerous players are lurking on two goals so far, including Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, and we should be in for an intriguing second half of the competition.