Can wingers Hulk, Reus, Ribery or Robben win World Cup Golden Boot?
winger, no less than brilliant Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov, last top-scored at a World Cup back in 1994.
Coral experts have put their heads together, and come up with four men from the flanks that are well worth betting on to win the Golden Boot in Brazil.
Hulk – 33/1
Zenit St Petersburg’s bulky wideman is averaging a goal every other game for the Russian heavyweights (16 in 28) in all competitions.
Hulk has also hit the net on eight occasions throughout 3/1 tournament favourites and hosts Brazil’s ‘World Tour’ in the build-up to the finals.
Punters may be put off by the fact that he failed to score for his country at last summer’s Confederations Cup on home soil.
Hulk put a year-long international goal drought behind him by netting in back-to-back matches at the back end of 2013.
Unlike Robinho and other older forwards, he is a favourite of Phil Scolari, who stuck with the muscular winger throughout his dry spell.
Brazil will battle Mexico (as well as Cameroon and Croatia) in Group A, and Hulk has an Olympic Games tournament final goal against that opposition to his name.
Arjen Robben – 40/1
Bayern Munich’s skilful Dutchman scored five times from 10 caps for the Netherlands in the calendar year of 2013. Robben has also netted at each of the last two World Cup tournaments.
Appointing Pep Guardiola to succeed treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes has helped Bayern build on that foundation of trophies. Under the former Barcelona boss, Robben remains on target to have his best season in front of goal. He has 18 in all competitions.
With the playmaking presence of Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart to find him, and Robin van Persie to make runs off and in support of, Robben could easily put a hot run of form together on South American soil.
The Clockwork Orange are facing a tough pool at the finals, however. Drawn in Group B with holders Spain, Chile and Australia, it is only the latter two matches where you can see Robben enjoying enough possession to score.
Marco Reus – 50/1
German wing whizz Reus has been a bright light in an injury-hit campaign for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund. He has posted some impressive stats for his country, as well as his club, in recent times too.
From six competitive caps, Reus scored five goals en route to Brazil. Only much-maligned Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil found the net more often for Joachim Low’s lads in qualifying. A club return of 17 in 33 in all competitions for Dortmund definitely makes this player one to watch.
Reus is in like company with the other wingers referenced here, insomuch as he likes to cut inside. This prevailing tactical orthodoxy may prove tough for defences of Germany’s Group G opponents Ghana, Portugal and the USA to handle.
Low may chop and change, however, to suit each individual match. Reus may be one of those vulnerable to what we euphemistically call squad rotation.
Franck Ribery – 66/1
France’s main man is Bayern winger Ribery. He was their top-scorer in qualifying with five, and looks set for his best ever league campaign. Three more Bundesliga goals from the Ballon d’Or nominated player will see that personal milestone reached.
Ribery has posted his best-ever scoring ratio of 15 in 31 appearances across all competitions. Not even a mysterious ‘buttock injury’ has kept him off the pitch for long this season. Munich attacker Ribery was the butt of jokes about this, but few will be laughing if he turns it on in World Cup Group E.
Les Bleus have got a relatively easy draw at the finals. Didier Deschamps is preparing for Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador, and they are clear favourites to top the pool at 8/11, because they have a player as gifted as Ribery.