The FIFA World Cup is nearly upon us and football fans from all over the world will be getting ready to cheer on their home nation – or in the case of Italy, USA, Chile and a few other notable exceptions, watching on in envy.
As well as watching the tournament, there will be a huge number of fans betting on the tournament. In the UK alone it is estimated that over £1bn was wagered on the last event in Brazil.
United’s Golden Boot contenders
Manchester United fans will see plenty of their players in action, but can any of them step up to claim the coveted Golden Boot?
The Golden Boot is one of the more popular markets, and this year there are plenty of worthy contenders including a couple of United stars. But can they wrestle the award away from favourites such as Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo?
Romelu Lukaku will be leading the line for Belgium this summer and is currently priced at 16/1. The Red Devils striker will be teaming up with former club boss Roberto Martinez who helped him develop during his time at Everton.
Anthony Martial has only made three appearances for France in the last two seasons so it is no surprise that his is a 40/1 shot for the prize. Meanwhile, teammate Paul Pogba is even longer at 66/1. Out of the Old Trafford contenders, Lukaku certainly looks the most likely to fight for the big prize.
Of course, anything is possible. The last tournament produced a surprise winner, with Colombia’s James Rodriguez taking the prize. Prior to that, the German pair of Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller grabbed the 2006 and 2010 titles respectively.
The bookies’ favourites
So who will win the Golden Boot in 2018? Oddsmakers at William Hill have Lionel Messi at 9/1 ahead of ex-United man Cristiano Ronaldo at 10/1. However, neither player has ever featured in the top three for this award. Neymar was third last time out and looks well-priced at 10/1 to top the charts in Russia.
Can a midfielder win it?
James Rodriguez won the award from midfield in 2014, and has entered the betting at a decent price of 33/1. Other midfield contenders include Roberto Firmino of Liverpool who often plays from a wide attacking position and Eden Hazard who has scored 15 goals in his last 28 games for Belgium.
(Image source: Copa2014.gov.br via Wikimedia Commons)
The German factor
If an Old Trafford star is to claim the prize, they might have to fend off the challenge of the German contingent. German players have featured in the top two of the Golden Boot standings at the last four World Cups, so it only makes sense to check out their latest contenders. Thomas Muller won the Golden Boot back in 2010 and was runner-up in Brazil last time out, but he is currently priced at 16/1. Timo Werner of RB Leipzig is also priced at 16/1, while Lars Stindl of Borussia Mönchengladbach can be backed at 25/1.
Premier league hotshots
There are also a few contenders a little closer to home with some of United’s biggest rivals boasting in-form strikers. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been the star of the latest Premier League campaign but might struggle to carry his Egypt teammates beyond the group stages.
Meanwhile, Harry Kane has also been in great scoring form for club and country and seems to be recovering well from his recent ankle injury. The Tottenham Hotspur man has netted seven times in his last six appearances for England and is certainly worth considering at a price of 16/1.
However, we have to be loyal to our main man, so Lukaku gets the nod as our Golden Boot tip.