Back target men to rise to World Cup Golden Boot challenge
There will be more than one prize on offer at the World Cup in Brazil this summer, with the nations’ star forwards all battling it out for the Golden Boot.
This year’s competition will be full of samba spirit with trickery and showmanship, but will the intense climate force a different approach from some teams? Step up the big target men, in Olivier Giroud, Fred, Romelu Lukaku and Miroslav Klose, to use power and presence rather than pace.
Olivier Giroud – 50/1
Giroud will be vying for a starting place with compatriot Karim Benzema (50/1 to be top scorer) in the France line-up. His club Arsenal have relied heavily on the 27-year-old this sFeeason, as he has played in all but five games in all competitions so far (40 matches), netting 18 times.
With only five goals out of his 26 appearances for his country, including two in the 6-0 friendly victory over Australia, his club form should help him prosper at the World Cup. Giroud is bidding to be the first French Golden Boot winner since Just Fontaine’s 13 goals in Sweden 1958 – still a competition record.
France’s group is arguably the least competitive of the tournament with 80/1 trophy shots Switzerland their only likely challenge for top spot. Ecuador (125/1) and Honduras (1500/1) make up the rest of Group E.
Les Blues are heavily odds-on to qualify to the first knockout round at 1/5, and are priced at 8/11 to finish first in their group. They are joint-sixth favourites to win the World Cup for a second time.
Fred – 33/1
Brazil’s Neymar (14/1) is the star of the team, but the home nation will likely field their less fashionable forward Fred to spearhead the attack. The current Fluminense front man has a good international goal record of netting just over one in every two games (16 in 31).
Fred, 30, was top scorer in the recent Confederations Cup with five in five, including two strikes past World Cup holders Spain (7/1 to defend their trophy) in the final during their 3-0 victory.
Since leaving French side Lyon in 2009, Fred has been prolific back in Brazil. Recent injuries have taken their toll on the striker, however, but South American football expert Tim Vickery suggests he “holds the key for Brazil”, while also describing him as “a wonderful striker of the ball, dangerous in the air, skilful and intelligent.”
The tournament favourites (3/1) face Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon at the first stage and are odds-on at 1/5 to win Group A. Their price of 1/50 makes them an almost certainty to progress.
Romelu Lukaku – 33/1
Belgium have never had a goalscorer win the Gold, Silver or even Bronze Boot at the World Cup finals, but they have a man who has all the credentials to cause mayhem to opposition defences.
The big Belgian is currently on loan at Everton from Chelsea, and has managed 10 goals in 21 Premier League appearances for the Toffees so far this season.
Lukaku has a similar international record to that of Giroud, having scored five in 27, but with Belgium arguably possessing their best crop of players in history, back the 20-year-old to fire the goals in. Coral rate them highly as fifth-favourites to win their maiden World Cup at 14/1.
Belgium are odds-on to win Group H at 8/13, while they are 1/6 chances just to qualify. Russia, South Korea and Algeria stand in their way at the first hurdle.
Miroslav Klose – 33/1
World Cup third-favourites Germany (11/2) are Europe’s best chance of winning the 2014 tournament, according to Coral, and are likely to rely on Klose to spearhead their attack once again.
Now 36, Klose goes to Brazil knowing that he can break a few prestigious records. He is currently joint-first Germany scorer with Gerd Muller with 68, and is equal second on the all-time World Cup list on 14 – one behind Brazilian legend Ronaldo – again with his countryman.
Age seems to be no problem for the current Lazio player, but he has suffered a few niggling injuries this season. Despite that, he has netted six times in 21 appearances so far.
A Golden Boot winner in 2006 with five, he hopes to become the first double winner of the prize. Germany face Portugal, USA and Ghana in Group G, where they are 1/8 odds-on favourites to progress, or 1/2 to finish first.