As the calendar continues to count down to this summer’s festival of football, the coaches of all 32 sides competing at the World Cup finals will dream of a striker who can make a real impact on the tournament.
Historically, any team which has been able to boast a good goal scorer has done extremely well. Think Gerd Muller for winners West Germany in 1974 or Ronaldo for champions Brazil in 2002. Who is likely to be the top scorer this summer, receiving the traditional Golden Boot award?
Neymar – Brazil
Does anyone have more pressure on them than Brazilian star Neymar? The 22-year-old has been Brazil’s great hope for some time, even at such a young age. However, Brazil expects to win on home soil and if Luiz Filipe Scolari’s side are to be successful, the undoubtedly talented Neymar will need to shine. The Barcelona star did well at last summer’s Confederations Cup. With his movement and range of tricks, he could end up scoring by the bucket load.
Lionel Messi – Argentina
The pressure is also on for Neymar’s Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi. Already widely recognised as the best player of a generation, Messi will go down as an all-time great if he can lead Argentina to glory in Brazil. He has sometimes been criticised for failing to perform at international level. However, Messi has visibly matured for Argentina since being handed the captaincy of his country. Could this be Messi’s tournament?
Mario Balotelli – Italy
Things could go either way for the enigmatic AC Milan striker. Still only 23-years-old, you get the feeling that the world has yet to see the best of Balotelli. On his day, he can score from anywhere. Big, strong and lightening quick, Balotelli is a potential nightmare for defenders this summer. He showed exactly what he can do at Euro 2012. However, there is another ambivalent side to Balotelli as well. He is equally likely to be the tournament’s top scorer or look disinterested throughout.
Thomas Muller – Germany
If any European team is going to become the first to lift the World Cup in South America, then the World Cup betting odds 2014 will likely favour Germany – And if Joachim Loew’s side are going to launch a realistic challenge, then Thomas Muller will likely have something to do with it. The 24-year-old was the joint top scorer at the World Cup four years ago and since then he has been outstanding with Bayern Munich, playing a big role in the German giants winning an unprecedented treble last season.
Robin Van Persie – Holland
Van Persie recently became Holland’s all-time record goal scorer. Not only does he boast an awesome record at international level, but Van Persie has regularly been one of Europe’s top strikers for a number of years. He has pretty much everything you need in a striker – excellent movement, strong in the air and a powerful shot. Having experienced a disappointing personal World Cup four years ago, Van Persie will be eager to make amends.