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World Cup Top Goalscorer

by Josh Powell | June 9, 2010

Some of the most famous names in the history of football have claimed the Golden Boot at the World Cup. Equally, some of the least famous and most difficult to spell names have also done it. In a vastly simplified categorizing of history, the Golden Boot Award winners tend to fall into two broad categories €“ No. 1 – Pure Quality and No. 2 €“ Right Time, Right Tap In. Group 1 is a very broad category because it contains fat Ronaldo along with fat Gerd Muller, Eusebio, Davor Suker, Hristo Stoickhov and er €¦ Gary Lineker. In the other corner you've got the likes of Toto Schillaci who didn't do much before World Cup 1990 and followed it up with even less afterwards. Lumped in with him is Oleg Salenko who put Cameroon to the sword at a time when most of the team were wiggling their way onto their flight home led by Roger Milla. Just because we now have scientific evidence that Miroslav Klose and Paulo Rossi aren't Eusebio, they're also getting lumped in with the flash-in-the-panners. Then of course there's all those players who were banging in the goals when the World Cup was in its infancy, but they're not getting a mention because that was at a time when running was considered a technical innovation.
With Spain expected to have a long run at the tournament and David Villa the one the team will be trying to tee up, he’s a worthy favourite. Quick, good with both feet and likely to hog all the penalties, he’s got a great chance. It doesn’t hurt that Spain have one of the easier passages to the Last 16. Likewise, Fernando Torres would have claims, but he was never quite at full fitness during the Premier League season so there are doubts about how much of a part he’ll get to play at the tournament. Or maybe the prospect of not playing under Rafa Benitez will miraculously see all his ailments vanish. He tends to have that effect.
What else can you say about Lionel Messi that hasn’t already been said? Em €¦ €˜that hair looks deadly' would be a start. He could potentially be the star of the show, but he could also be the one hindered most by Maradona’s rejection of logic and the way Argentina are set-up may not get the most out of him. He’s impossible to rule out entirely particularly considering the straightforward group they’ve been handed, but he’s still unlikely to wreak the havoc he does at Barcelona. If you’re related to Maradona or just think he’s not all that bad a manager and Argentina could hang around South Africa until July, then Gonzalo Higuain might be the better choice. Because Real Madrid are about as popular as a boatful of Israelis approaching your flotilla, he probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but last season he notched up 27 league goals from 28 starts. Granted that might have had a lot to do with getting nicely set up by the all star supporting cast, but what’s to say he can’t tap in a few after someone else has done all the hard work at international level? He provides a physical presence that most of Argentina's attackers lack and is a better value option.
England’s players are interesting, again mainly due to the fact they don’t have the most difficult of draws. Algeria made Liam Lawrence look like Michel Platini in Dublin a couple of weeks back and no-one would be surprised to see Wayne Rooney engage in a bit of the flack-track bullying he loves so much at Man Utd. Again, his fitness is a concern, but Fabio Capello is the type of manager who can get England an extended stay in the tournament so Rooney should get plenty of chances. Crouch and Defoe might bag a couple but aren't prolific enough to claim the honour outright whilst if Emile Heskey manages to avoid crippling another key player, it’ll be considered a successful World Cup for him.
You can be pretty certain Brazil will be around for the latter stages of the tournament, but the problem with picking Luis Fabiano or another Samba Boy is that they’ve too many sources of goals. It ranks up there with the classic problems of being too rich and being too beautiful, but when you're looking for a Top Goalscorer bet it complicates things. They very might well rack up 10 to 15 goals in South Africa, but it's likely to be spread around the team. Kaka might get a couple, Fabiano should get a couple, Nilmar could get in on the act and if he gets tired of all the stepovers, Robinho is a goalscoring threat. With so many attacking options, picking out one is tricky.
Cristiano Ronaldo can’t be left out of consideration. Bizarrely, he didn't manage a single goal in Portugal's just about successful qualifying campaign, but I think we can safely assume that's a blip rather than proof he's secretly rubbish. Again, maybe the strength of his team-mates at club level give him more to work with, but this is a useful Portuguese side and they look to be coming good at the right time. The game against North Korea is the key one for Ronaldo to stake his claim for the Golden Boot.
Robin Van Persie has some appeal. He's spent much of the last season with his feet up watching TV, so he should be fresh as a daisy that's been watching too much Cash In The Attic. With Robben unlikely to be around to shoot at every available opportunity, it could play into Van Persie's quiff. He'll be involved with the set pieces and although it may not be the easiest of groups, it's one of those groups that could very well turn out to be a cakewalk if the Dutch hit their stride.
Diego Forlan is the blondest of dark horses to win the honour. He’s coming off the back of a good season with Atletico Madrid and in tandem with Luis Suarez, he should get plenty of ammunition. Suarez himself is worth a bet, but a few seasons of high-scoring for Ajax in the Dutch league can't be taken as a guarantee of doing it at a higher level €“ not looking at any Kezman in particular. It wouldn’t take the greatest stretch of the imagination to think Uruguay can get out of Group A and even a potential 2nd Round clash with their familiar Argentine neighbours isn't overly intimidating. They’ve a decent chance of playing a few games in South Africa, so there could be a bit of value about them.
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