The race for the World Cup Golden Boot is already hotting up, with a number of the World’s top stars involved as the tournament heads towards thef inal. Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium have fallen and France, England and Croatia are among those sides ready to reach the next level, and some of them have already been lead from the front by their talismanic forwards. Here is a look at the big contenders for the biggest individual prize, in order of their place in the rankings.
England weren’t many people’s pick for a team that could challenge for the biggest trophy of them all, having brought a young squad to Russia under rookie international manager Gareth Southgate. But they have one player who headed into this summer with huge expectations from himself and others; Harry Kane hit 30 Premier League goals in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt last season, but there were doubts as to whether he could transfer that form onto the international scene.
I'm still trying to get my head around just how good Harry Kane is.— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) June 25, 2018
Best Striker in the world by a mile. pic.twitter.com/ZRZwNnLxyI
Kane, who could be found with odds as long as 16/1 to finish as top goalscorer just weeks ago, started like a house on fire. Two goals in the opening game against Tunisia in Volgograd set him and England on their way, and he then helped the Three Lions to their biggest World Cup win ever with a hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Panama. He missed the Belgium game, but returned to the side and scored a penalty, both in the game and the shootout, against Colombia.
Few players have looked like enjoying themselves more than Romelu Lukaky at the World Cup so far. After an impressive debut season at Manchester United, which yielded 27 goals, the Belgian has been the brightest spark for the Belgian Red Devils in Russia. Their performance was far from impressive in the first half of their first game against Panama, but he scored two late goals to add gloss to the 3-0 result, while he found even more space against Tunisia. He scored twice more in the 5-2 win and could have had more before being replaced by Michy Batshuayi, who himself could have grabbed a hat-trick.
Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku: two players who have improved their games massively over the past 12 months. Now performing exceptionally well on football's biggest stage. José Mourinho deserves praise.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) June 26, 2018
He didn’t come face to face with Kane because of mass changes for both England and Belgium. Lukaku is showing that he can shoulder the responsibility of leading Belgium deep into the tournament, having already become their all time top goalscorer.
Kylian Mbappe was not exactly an unknown quantity before the tournament, but the 19-year-old is a household name after an explosive start to the World Cup. The only goal against Peru saved France, but he really took off when he won a penalty and scored a brace against Argentina in the last 16.
Les Bleus have been hit and miss so far, but in Mbappe, they have a player worth building around. He has three goals already and although there is a gap to Kane, he is more than capable of winning the Golden Boot and being named Player of the Tournament.
Antoine Griezmann was expected to be France’s main man at the World Cup this summer, but he has struggled to make an impact, scoring twice from the penalty spot in the group stage.
But now, Griezmann is well in the race to win the Golden Boot. As France have grown into the tournament, he has improved, too. He didn’t look comfortable alongside Mbappe in the opening games, but he has looked far more comfortable and cannot be ruled out.
Eden Hazard is another with an outside chance of winning the Golden Boot, but he will need a spectacular performance against France if he is to have any chance of overtaking Kane. Much like France, Belgium have grown with confidence as time has gone on. Hazard has been a huge reason for that.
Without doubt, if Belgium are to win their first ever major trophy, Hazard needs to improve on his goal tally.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 4 goals
The Portugal captain came into the tournament looking to do battle with his big rival Lionel Messi, but both players were sent packing at the last 16 stage. Ronaldo had already shone by netting a hattrick in the opening game against Spain before adding to his tally against Morocco.
Denis Cheryshev – 4 goals
Nobody expected Russia to reach the quarter finals, but they did exactly that and Denis Cheryshev was one of their biggest stars, scoring four goals, two of which are contenders for Goal of the Tournament.
Diego Costa – 3 goals
Like Ronaldo, Costa only scored in two games, netting twice in the opening game against Portugal and again against Iran. Nobody expected to see Russia knock Spain out, especially because it brought to an end what looked like being a strong challenge for the Golden Boot from the Atletico Madrid striker.
With both Diego Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo out of the World Cup now, the race for the Golden Boot is thinning out. Harry Kane already led the way with five goals before Portugal and Spain were both sent packing at the last 16, but he added to his tally with a penalty as England progressed past Colombia on Tuesday night.
The Tottenham man is two goals ahead of Romelu Lukaku, who despite not scoring in the victory over Japan, will be looking to fire Belgium past Brazil on Friday. Neymar has an outside chance of winning the Golden Boot, having scored twice, but one of those two players will be departing the tournament at full time.
It is the same story for Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani and France youngster Kylian Mbappé. Both have three goals to their name after scoring braces in their respective last 16 victories over Portugal and Argentina, but they face each other in the last eight and only one will prevail. Artem Dzyuba and Denis Cheryshev of Russia also have three goals as they prepare to take on Croatia on Saturday evening.
Cristiano Ronaldo shook the world with his hat-trick against Spain on the second night of the World Cup, but Harry Kane emulated him and surpassed him in the race for the Golden Boot after a treble of his own against Panama on Sunday.
Not only did the victory send England through to the last 16 with a game to spare, but it also moved Kane to the top of the goal scoring charts with five to his name, ahead of Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku on four and Denis Cheryshev and Diego Costa, who have three.
Denis Cheryshev levelled with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the FIFA World Cup goalscoring charts with his strike against Egypt on Tuesday evening. He has three, while Ronaldo, whose Portugal side face Morocco on Wednesday, scored a hat-trick against Spain. La Roja’s Diego Costa and England’s Harry Kane are also in the running with two goals each, just like Russia’s Artem Dzyuba.
It has been a tough start to the competition for some of the favourites to win the Golden Boot; Lionel Messi missed a penalty in Argentina’s draw with Iceland, while Neymar was fouled no fewer than ten times as Brazil failed to beat Switzerland.