Euro 2020 Special

FIFA World Cup 2022: Top Five Contenders For The Golden Boot

With the FIFA World Cup 2022 just days away, the world’s attention has turned to key players that will make or break their team’s fortunes. One of the most widely anticipated races of any tournament is the race for the Golden Boot award, which is given to the player with the most number of goals in the tournament.

But the prestigious award has eluded the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo until now, with even legendary players like Diego Maradona and Pele unable to claim it in the past. While it is easy for a player to perform well and contribute to the team in a holistic sense, it is much more difficult to be the leading goalscorer without compromising on the team’s performance.


What It Takes To Win the Award

While talent and skills with the ball are necessary conditions for any player to thrive in the World Cup, they alone are not sufficient to score the most number of goals in the tournament.

The entire team has to rally behind the player to enable him to score the most goals – with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi suffering from the issue in all the World Cups they have been a part of so far.

Another crucial aspect is the team’s progression in the tournament as more games give more opportunities for an individual to score more goals. Similarly, being a penalty-taker also helps an individual player net more goals – as has been the case with Harry Kane during the 2018 World Cup.

Besides these three factors, there is also the element of the quality of the team. While managers would want multiple goalscorers for the team, sharing goals among various team members reduces the chances of a striker from the team being in contention for the award – as has been the case for defending champions France in their 2018 tournament.

Ahead of the start of the World Cup in Qatar, let’s take a look at the top five contenders for the Golden Boot Award.


#5: Kylian Mbappe

The youngest player on the list, Kylian Mbappe has been a sensational player for Les Bleus since his debut in the 2018 World Cup.

The 23-year-old scored four goals in the last edition of the World Cup and is certain to exceed that tally this year. With 12 goals to his name for PSG so far this season, Kylian Mbappe looks in terrific form and is arguably at the peak of his career.

While Kylian Mbappe is a certain starter for France, his chances to win the Golden Boot award will be impacted by another legend of the game, Antoine Griezmann.

The duo form a formidable attack for the defending champions, scoring eight goals for France in 2018. It is for this reason that Kylian Mbappe winning the Golden Boot is unlikely, although not impossible.


#4: Neymar

With talks of retirement from international football, Neymar will be itching to make an impact on the 2022 World Cup with his national team.

The Brazilian star is undoubtedly one of the most talented footballers of this generation but has never really fired up to his potential. But his record at the World Cups is better than either Ronaldo or Messi as the 30-year-old has scored six goals in just two World Cup tournaments.

His form at Paris Saint-Germain has been impressive – scoring 11 goals in 14 Ligue 1 fixtures this season. He has been the key player in Brazil’s qualification journey, scoring eight goals and providing eight assists to enable Brazil to finish at the top of the table.

If Brazil manage to navigate through the complicated knock-out rounds, Neymar will have a good chance of claiming the Golden Boot award.


#3: Harry Kane

The winner of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot award, Harry Kane is once again England’s main hope to win the trophy. Being the main penalty-taker for England also helps his cause, as Gareth Southgate’s conservative approach to the game is likely to push a few games in the knockout rounds to penalty shootouts.

While the start of the season has seen much drama concerning his intention to leave Tottenham, the English captain has since made his peace with the management.

With 12 goals from 15 Premier League games, he is in phenomenal form. But England have to battle through a tricky knockout stage, and a change in their tactics is urgently needed for the Three Lions to reach the final.

Harry Kane’s chances of defending the title depend once again on England’s overall performance in the tournament.


#2: Lionel Messi

Despite playing in 19 matches across four World Cups, Lionel Messi has been unable to replicate the same magic that he produces in club football for his national side. However, statistics don’t tell the whole truth when it comes to Argentina’s captain.

Such is his impact on the game that Lionel Messi took home the Golden Ball award in the 2014 World Cup despite their loss to Germany in the final.

The reinvention of Argentina under Lionel Scaloni has amplified Lionel Messi’s impact on his team – with the team revolving around the Paris Saint-Germain star. The results were clear in the Copa America 2021 where Messi finished as the tournament’s top-scorer and won his side the trophy for the first time this century.

With phenomenal form in international fixtures, Lionel Messi is certain to lead the goalscorer list in the World Cup, although he might just fall short if he decides to play a more supportive role.


#1: Cristiano Ronaldo

With an imminent exit from Manchester United looming on the horizon, the World Cup in Qatar might be the last opportunity for the legend to retire from the game on his terms.

Despite off-the-field issues dominating his life, the 37-year-old remains a prolific goalscorer for Portugal and has all the attributes needed to lead his team to the final.

The absence of Diogo Jota will further aid Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal-scoring opportunities, as in his absence, the Portuguese captain is the lone striker for the team.

Ronaldo also has experience on his side since he has scored seven goals in four World Cups since 2007.

Portugal also have the odds on their side because they are one of the favourites to reach the final of the tournament. This will allow Ronaldo plenty of opportunities to score for his team and lead them from the front.

In what is likely to be his last World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to give it his all for the team and is the favourite to win the Golden Boot award.




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