WC Golden Boot preview: Is Timo Werner Germany’s latest goal machine?
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WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN—22 DAYS
Every individual player heading to the 2018 World Cup will be dreaming of lifting the trophy on 15 July, but several attackers will also be hoping to win the Golden Boot by scoring more goals than all of their team-mates and rivals. It is a prestigious prize for any forward and this year’s battle looks set to be just as hotly-contested as the fight to be crowned champions of the world. It is always difficult to look beyond the strikers of those teams who are likely to progress to the latter stages of the tournament.
Holders Germany will likely start with Timo Werner up front, and his speed and movement could add a different dimension to the defending champions’ play. Team-mate Thomas Muller has endured a tough couple of seasons since Euro 2016, but he has already scored 10 goals at World Cups and will fancy his chances of winning the Golden Boot for a second time.
Brazil’s primary candidate is Neymar, although Gabriel Jesus is also a contender. The Paris Saint-Germain man has missed the last few months with injury, but there is a view that his enforced absence is a good thing for the Selecaogiven that their star man will now be relatively fresh heading into the competition. Diego Costa looks set to be Spain’s starting centre-forward, meanwhile, but he struggled at the 2014 World Cup and there still appears to be a stylistic clash between the Atletico Madrid marksman and the team as a whole.
France’s Antoine Griezmann was the top scorer at the European Championship two years ago and should be there or thereabouts in Russia, while Harry Kane possesses a brilliant record at club level and will hope to be fit and firing following trouble with an ankle injury.
Argentina possess several talented attackers including Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain (Aguero will get the nod ahead of Higuain) but found it difficult to score goals in qualifying, a problem which was not shared by a Romelu Lukaku-spearheaded Belgium. Uruguayan duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani should not be ruled out, and Cristiano Ronaldo continues to rack up remarkable scoring numbers for both Real Madrid and Portugal.
Two outside picks can be found in Group A and Group H. Egypt’s Mohamed Salah has been sensational for Liverpool this term and could take advantage of some favourable opponents in the first round, while Poland striker Robert Lewandowski finished as the top scorer in European qualifying.