We are now less than a week out from the kickoff of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and with 23-man squads locked down, we have a much firmer grasp on who will be doing the goal scoring this summer and we can narrow our sights on who we want to bet on to be the tournament’s top goalscorer.
Let’s take a look at the most important odds changes at Bovada since our last update.
Messi and Neymar Drop to +1000
This is nothing to be concerned about if you’ve already backed either of these prolific South Americans. It is, however, an opportunity to grab the favorites at a better price if you are so inclined. It is very likely that both men find the back of the net early and often at the World Cup and at 10/1 you’re not getting ripped off.
In my opinion, though, Neymar is the better bet. Given some internal struggles and horrible play on the pitch, Argentina is not a team I’m clamoring to bet on at this tournament. If they go out early or fail to make it to the knockout round, Messi Golden Boot futures will be all but sunk.
Ronaldo’s Odds are Slipping
Dropping from +1200 to +1600 in the odds to win the Golden Boot at the World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo is shaping up as one of the best bets on the board. CR7 nearly set a record for goal scoring in World Cup qualifying and his team is built for tournament success.
Portugal is all but a lock to get to the knockout round so a lack of minutes shouldn’t be a problem for the Navigators talisman.
Lukaku is on the Rise
The Belgian Best, Romelu Lukaku, might be more primed for a big World Cup than any other goalscorer and his move from +2000 to +1800 makes a lot of sense and potentially a lot of dollars. He is absolutely surrounded by world-class setup men with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens in Belgium’s attacking ranks so supply should not be an issue for Manchester United’s goal poacher.
For more Golden Boot talk, check out episode 2 of the OddsShark FC podcast.
Here’s the complete Golden Boot oddsboard:
|Kevin De Bruyne||Belgium||+10000|
|Angel Di Maria||Argentina||+15000|
Odds as of June 8 at Bovada
The beautiful game reaches its four-year pinnacle this June when 32 of the best footballing nations on the planet meet in Russia for the 2018 World Cup. Most of the reading and handicapping you’ll do in the lead-up to the final will be focused on the teams and who will win but this piece hones in on the players who will get their teams across the line and the odds on which one will finish as the tournament’s top goalscorer, winning the coveted Golden Boot award.
Before placing a Golden Boot bet, there are a couple of things you’ll want to consider as it’s not an easy wager to hit. I’ll do my best to break them down for you here, and at the end I’ll provide a few players I think have a good shot at heading home with the hardware.
Look for a contender
In the 20 World Cup finals since the four-year cycle began in 1930, the top goalscorer has come from a team that placed first, second or third all but two times and, interestingly, the bronze medalists have had a share of an astounding 11 Golden Boot awards.
The theory behind looking for a contender is obvious as advancing further into the tournament gives you more fixtures to score goals but the reasoning behind third-place producing so many top scorers is a little more complex.
Historically, bronze-medal games have been higher-scoring, producing an extra half a goal on average when compared to gold-medal games. This is likely due to the perceived importance – or lack thereof – for the third-place fixture.
Of course, it’s nearly impossible to project who will finish exactly third in Russia so you’ll want to select players on the teams you think are most likely going to make it to the semifinals (Tip: take a look at the futures odds to see which nations sportsbooks think are most likely to win the tournament).
One of the most important pieces of this puzzle is finding a player who’s a bit under the radar but who’s going to heavily feature in a squad that has a good chance to go deep and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a striker.
The last two Golden Boot winners (James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller) were both attacking midfielders and while you’re going to want to mix in a high-priced No. 9 or two, middies can provide excellent value for the long-shot bettors out there.
James, for example, is the incumbent winner, yet he’s being offered at +5000 odds at Bovada. That said, there has never been a repeat Golden Boot winner and I don’t expect Colombia to make a darling run to the semifinals despite drawing one of the more favorable groups in the tournament.
My strategy for value is to take teams in the top 10 in World Cup futures, eliminate the Messis and Neymars and pick from the secondary scorers.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the options.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) +1200
My chalkiest pick, Ronaldo certainly has the scoring pedigree and he’s coming off a runner-up effort in the 2016 UEFA European Championship Golden Boot race.
Portugal is the kind of squad that’s built to go deep in this kind of competition – evidenced by their win in France – and I think they’re being shorted by oddsmakers.
The Portuguese will surely navigate themselves to the quarters at the very least after a disappointing effort in Brazil and with Rotten Ronnie turning 37 before Qatar 2022, CR7 will do his damnedest to leave his mark on the world stage in Russia this summer.
Timo Werner (Germany) +1600
Take this with a grain of salz as Joachim Low likes to keep his tactics under wraps for as long as possible and I’m not sure how much the German speedster will figure into the defending champion’s plans.
Werner is, however, the most talented striker the Germans have had in some time, possessing skills and speed atypical of a traditional Nationalelf No. 9.
I will be shocked if the Leipzig forward isn’t selected for the majority of the starting XI’s and with Germany installed as pre-tournament favorites, Werner should have ample time to ply his goal-scoring trade.
Dries Mertens (Belgium) +3300
The Belgians’ propensity to bottle things up makes this a bit of a hairy prospect but at face value, the Red Devils possess one of the top three or four most talented squads and Dries Mertens is a big reason for that.
The Napoli forward is the top scorer for the most lethal front three in Serie A, using his unique mix of pace and skill to lead the lines for the Light Blues.
Likely slotting into a wide position next to Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard for the majority of Belgium’s contests, Mertens will have plenty of service from EPL superstar Kevin De Bruyne. He won’t have to worry about scoring opportunities, it’s just a matter of how Dr. Dries takes them.
Kylian Mbappe (France) +3300
With just three goals for the senior squad in 12 caps and a massive French talent pool to pick from, Mbappe is flying under the radar a bit at +3300.
The super-talented teenager was “loaned” to PSG after a breakout season for Monaco and he’s gone on to score 13 goals in 25 matches with the Parisians.
The World Cup hasn’t always been the brightest stage for youngsters but James’ performance for the Colombians as a 22-year-old in 2014 showed what’s possible for players like Mbappe.
Roberto Firmino (Brazil) +6600
Playing second fiddle to the exhilarating Mohamed Salah this season, Roberto Firmino has not so quietly accumulated 25 goals for Liverpool across his 43 Premier League and Champions League appearances (thus far) and he’s a big reason for the Reds’ run to the UCL final as 10 of those 25 were scored in just 12 Champs League matches.
The list of potential attackers is long for the green and yellow but it would be robbery to keep the man they call Bobby Chompers out of the lineup given what he’s achieved with his club.
I’d recommend waiting until May 14 to make this bet as that’s when we’ll know for sure whether Roberto will be going to Russia. If he’s named to the 30-man squad? Fire away. If he’s not? Invest in either Gabriel Jesus or former Liverpool teammate Philippe Coutinho.
This page will be constantly updated throughout the World Cup so keep it bookmarked and watch for sudden changes on Twitter.
Here’s the complete Golden Boot oddsboard:
|Kevin De Bruyne||Belgium||+10000|
Odds as of May 29 at Bovada