Probably the most exciting betting markets for just about any football World Cup may be the Golden Boot winners with numerous aspiring players competing to be awarded as the player that scored the most goals within the tournament.
For 2014, Argentina’s Lionel Messi is the bookmakers’ favourite at 8/1 with Winner Sports but there are plenty of tangible contenders such as Brazil’s Neymar or Germany’s veteran Miroslav Klose.
Another way to approach this difficult betting market is to look at the opening rounds of fixtures. Grzegorz Lato’s seven strikes in West Germany in 1974 were aided by two goals against a very poor Haiti side. Similarly, when Gerd Muller bagged 10 for the Germans four years earlier, his cause was helped by a relatively easy group. Muller scored eight of his ten in three matches against Morocco, Peru and Bulgaria.
If you take those facts into account then it’s worth considering the favourite – Argentina’s mercurial Lionel Messi. The Argentines are red hot favourites to win their group which contains relative minnows in Iran, Bosnia and Nigeria and if Messi can finally take his club form to the international stage, he may well have won the top scorer market before the knockouts even begin.
Contrast those early games with those of Brazil who have the second favourite in their squad. Neymar is quoted at 14/1 with Stan James to take the Golden Boot but his team have a tougher group that includes Mexico, Cameroon and Croatia.
Those prices are relatively short in a market with so many possibilities so where is the value in the lead up to this summer’s tournament?
The best outside picks
South American players dominate the market and while there is a theory that you should look to those who are comfortable in the conditions, there are some outstanding options further down the list.
Germany have provided three Golden Boot winners in the past and as we already know, Gerd Muller achieved the feat in South America back in 1970. Joachim Low’s team have been drawn in Group G and while their opening clash against Portugal shouldn’t provide too many goal scoring opportunities for Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller, the country’s remaining fixtures look to be relatively straightforward.
Ghana and the United States, managed by former German striker Jurgen Klinsmann, are tricky opponents but Low’s men should win quite comfortably and if the games go with form, there should be a wide winning margin.
That definitely brings Germany’s strike pair into contention and their odds are very striking. Thomas Muller is quoted at 33/1 with Winner Sports while Miroslav Klose is even further back at 50/1 with Boylesports. Remember, both men have either won or shared the Golden Boot in the past and are therefore outstanding choices.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo looks far too short at 14/1 with Winner Sports. The striker is another man who has a prolific record at club level without really making an impact at major tournaments and he should probably be avoided at that figure.
Manchester City’s Argentinian international Sergio Aguero does look a better bet at an odds of 18/1 with Paddy Power but he has suffered with a number of injuries in the second half of the English domestic season. Luis Suarez will tempt many at that same 18/1 price with Paddy Power but his Uruguay side start with a tough qualifying group that includes Italy and England.
Elsewhere, a lot of attention will be focussed on Romelu Lukaku who is part of a strong Belgian side but the Chelsea man only scored twice in qualifying and isn’t necessarily a potent force at this level of the game. Lukaku is on offer at 33/1 with Winner Sports.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi holds the key to this bet and if he can take advantage of a weak qualifying section, the Barcelona man will justify his tag as pre-tournament favourite for the Golden Boot. Meanwhile, there is a host of tempting alternatives but the most eye catching prices are the ones placed next to the names of German pair Thomas Muller and Miroslav Klose.