FIFA World Cup 2018: 7 contenders to win the Golden Boot in Russia
The Golden Boot is one of the most prestigious individual honours bestowed upon a footballer and this year the pool of contenders looks very promising. With the World Cup already underway, we mentioned on WhatsThe Hype how we’re hoping to see our favourite stars playing in their national colours. The following list, in no particular order, represents the players we believe are the strongest contenders this year based on their club and international performance.
Captain Harry Kane will bear the burden of breaking the 52-year drought experienced by England in World Cups. His individual performance has been exemplary over the last four seasons with Tottenham, easily justifying why people are calling him one of the best strikers in the world. This season Kane scored 43 goals in 50 matches, and with Russia being his first World Cup tournament, the pressure to deliver will be immense. However, with the help of Sterling and Rashford by his side, Kane will demonstrate how devastating the English attack can be.
As one of the most decorated players in world football, the World Cup remains the only trophy missing from Ronaldo’s cabinet. At 33, Russia is likely to be the Portuguese striker’s last FIFA World Cup. With lacklustre performances in South Africa and Brazil, Ronaldo is hoping to finish his international career on a high note. Yet, with 149 caps and 81 goals in international matches, over 310 goals in 292 Real Madrid club appearances, as well as five Ballon d’Or awards, Ronaldo has demonstrated his quality time and time again.
With Belgium’s quarterfinal exits from the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, fans were left wanting more, especially from the young striker. Having scored 9 goals in 9 international fixtures for his country this year, the young forward will again be looking for a supply of opportunities in front of goal from the likes of Hazard and de Bruyne. Having become Belgium’s all-time record goal scorer, with 31 international goals at the young age of 24, Russia will be his chance to extend that record and win the Golden Boot.
The Paris St. Germain forward has racked up 53 international goals at the age of 26, being a top performer for his country. The tournament in 2014 was supposed to be his chance to win the World Cup at home. Unfortunately, the dream turned into a nightmare and was he was injured halfway in the quarterfinals, leaving Brazil to suffer their worst ever World Cup loss to Germany. Nevertheless, he has since recovered and Russia will be his opportunity to pick up where he left off.
While having refused to play for his birth country of Brazil, the year they hosted the tournament, earned him the ire of the Brazilian Football Confederation and the entire country, the experienced striker flourished for Spain alongside Iniesta, Pique and Ramos. With reports that the legendary Andres Iniesta is set to retire this year, Russia will be the last time the dream pair of Costa and Iniesta will feature in the Spanish attack. With 7 goals in 18 international appearances, Costa looks a strong contender for the coveted award.
Despite a slow start to his season, the Atletico Madrid striker was the top scorer at Euro 2016, scoring six goals for France and winning the Golden Boot as well as Player of the Tournament. Griezmann has gained significant ground since his notable maiden appearance in Brazil four years ago, having scored 29 goals for Atletico this season. People all over the world believe that his versatility as a forward is his greatest strength. His top performance helped his club win the Europa League final and claim second place in La Liga.
With expectations riding high on the legendary Argentinian player, we can expect that he’ll be entering Russia with all guns blazing. Not turning any younger, this may very well be that last FIFA World Cup for the 30-year-old sensation. Already having won his Fifth Golden Shoe this year after scoring 47 goals this season, Messi will be eyeing the World Cup Golden Boot one last time. Despite a slow scoring start in his first two World Cups, he netted four goals in 2014 and will be hoping to surpass that this year.
Written by: Amanda Lewis