In the same way that an outright winner is incredibly difficult to pick from the bunch for the 2022 World Cup, the wide open nature of this year’s tournament also makes a Golden Boot winner a tough one to predict. With some of the stronger nations coming into the competition in indifferent form at best, an early exit for some star players is a genuine possibility. Granted, the top forwards will be able to create moments of magic on their own, but without a team behind them capable of progressing deep into the tournament, their timeframe in which they have the chance to score these goals will be severely limited.
With so much quality on show spread out across the 32 teams, it remains to be seen whether or not the star turns will be able to get a head start, and bag their goals in the early stages. Will the Golden Boot winner be a part of the winning squad, or will there be a surprise from somebody suffering an early exit? There are a number of great shouts for the 2022 World Cup Golden Boot, and here’s how the bookies see it.
Odds to win the Golden Boot: 7/1
2018 Golden Boot winner Harry Kane is being widely tipped to retain the honour that he won four years ago. He finished two goals clear of his nearest rivals in Russia, with 6 in total. In fact his 5 group stage goals against Tunisia and Panama would have been enough for the Golden Boot on their own, perhaps significant when you consider that any of the big nations could well face an early exit this time around.
12 goals in qualifying for the World Cup tells you everything you need to know about the England captain. Calm in front of goal, and a true leader, Kane is more than capable of creating something from nothing. However, it’s well worth remembering that 5 of these goals came against Andorra and San Marino, but that aside, 7 in his remaining 8 is still an incredible statistic.
England’s form has taken a downward turn of late, and despite arguably being the favourite to leave Qatar as the top scorer, Kane’s form has been directly impacted by this. 2 penalty goals in England’s dire Nations League Campaign means that Kane has failed to score from open play in his last 7 England appearances. If the Three Lions can find their feet, then the England captain will be top of many people’s list.
Odds to win the Golden Boot: 8/1
4 goals in his debut campaign on the way to lifting the trophy will have been the stuff of dreams for a 19 year old Kylian Mbappe. Now with 4 years more experience, the French starlet is continuing to make waves in the footballing world. Lucrative contracts, a Real Madrid transfer saga, an on field tantrum for both club and country, you can think what you like of Mbappe. But, one thing is for certain, he scores goals.
Normally, one would look at France and assume that the droves of attacking talent at their disposal would allow for Mbappe to truly shine. This hasn’t been the case of late however. Mbappe scored just 2 in 6 in what was a horror show of a Nations League campaign that almost saw France relegated. If Deschamps’ side can’t find their killer instinct soon, then Mbappe may struggle for opportunities in front of goal.
5 goals in 6 appearances in qualifying for the World Cup makes for much better reading, and if France can fix their issues, as many are expecting them to, then Mbappe looks a promising shout for another close run at the Golden Boot.
Odds to win the Golden Boot: 12/1
Clinical, dynamic, explosive, tricky, all words that can be attributed to Brazil’s talismanic forward Neymar. Perhaps the pot 1 nation with the fewest problems and most consistent form heading into the 2022 World Cup, Tite and the rest of his Brazil squad will certainly provide a platform from which Neymar can run riot.
8 goals and 8 assists in just 10 appearances in CONMEBOL qualifying is nothing short of sensational, and these are numbers that Neymar has been replicating this season at PSG. 9 goals and 7 assists in 11 Ligue 1 games is evidence of the form that Neymar will be carrying into FIFA’s flagship event, and it’s the kind of form that will have opposition defences trembling.
Most are well aware of just how open the World Cup is this year, but Brazil don’t seem to be suffering from the same identity issues that many of the European heavyweights are struggling with. In Casemiro and Fred, Brazil has an engine room designed to let the rest of the team sing. In Lucas Paqueta and Raphinha, they have players capable of creating clear cut chances. Neymar’s job is therefore simple, to put the ball in the back of the net, and he could well do so multiple times on the way to a Golden Boot.
Odds to win the Golden Boot: 12/1
Recently crowned Ballon D’or winner Karim Benzema will be looking to make the most of what will likely be his final World Cup when he takes to the pitch in Qatar this month. A phenom both on and off the ball, the French centre forward missed out on selection for the 2018 edition of the tournament. With time not on his side, he’ll be aiming to steer his country to glory once more, and score a few goals whilst he’s at it.
Benzema certainly played his part in France’s World Cup qualification, with 3 goals in just 5 appearances, and his club form over the last year has been quite frankly ridiculous. He amassed 44 goals in 46 games as Real clinched both La Liga and the Champions League.
Yet, questions still hang over his head. With France in poor form of late, will he be able to carry them himself, or will he need to feed off others? Additionally, with both he and Mbappe vying for the Golden Boot, will one suffer at the expense of the other? Despite the problems that France face, Benzema is a forward capable of scoring goals on his own, and if Les Blues can pick up their form, then a Golden Boot certainly isn’t outside the realms of possibility for one of the smoothest operators on the planet.
Odds to win the Golden Boot: 12/1
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about Lionel Messi? At 35 years of age, this is more than likely to be the diminutive Argetinian’s final World Cup, and of course, he’ll be desperate to land the biggest prize in football for the first time in his career. If there’s a player for the big occasion, then Messi is that man, and he has the quality and the class necessary to drag his team all the way to the title.
Whilst the star players of other nations may be impacted by their team’s downturn in form, Messi will have no such problem with his Argentinian compatriots. Unbeaten since 2019, the Copa America champions have hit form at the right moment, and having tasted tournament success for the first time since 1993, they’ll be desperate to do it again. This is a team that should be able to capitalise on the wide open nature of the 2022 World Cup, and this should only work to Messi’s benefit.
7 goals in CONMEBOL qualifying highlights the drive that Lionel Messi still has at international level. With the World Cup being the only outstanding achievement left to tick off on Messi’s CV, one of the greatest to ever play the game will be worth a shout for the Golden Boot as he looks to draw the curtain on his international career with a successful World Cup campaign.
A wide open World Cup means that the list of players that could well lift the Golden Boot come the end of the tournament is not simply limited to the above. Cristiano Ronaldo is another such name that will be on the tips of everyone’s tongues. In fact, it’s arguable that the centre forwards of all the leading nations will be fancied to net multiple times. Romelu Lukaku will likely lead the charge for Belgium, whereas Memphis Depay’s 12 goals in World Cup qualifying make him well worth considering at 25/1 for the Golden Boot. Even Robert Lewandowski at 33/1 could spring a surprise, but his chances are likely to be determined by whether or not Poland have the quality to keep up with their opposition come the knockouts.
There will be a number of talented players that will miss out on any sort of World Cup glory, whether that be the Golden Boot or the World Cup itself. There are some incredible narratives heading into the tournament, and all of them will make the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup a must watch. Will Messi rise to the occasion, or could Harry Kane win successive Golden Boots? Only time will tell.