Over the years Lionel Messi has made a habit of eclipsing the accomplishments of La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo and the 2014 World Cup could see that trend continue.
The Real Madrid man may have won the battle for the Ballon D’or, following a season of impressive goalscoring for both club and country, but when it comes to this summer’s tournament in Brazil, his Barcelona rival could be the one to take all the plaudits.
Ronaldo is priced at 14/1 with Ladbrokes to claim the Golden Boot this summer, with Messi the current favourite at 8/1 and given the teams both are set to face in the group phase of the competition, it’s difficult to argue against the South American.
CR7 faces a tricky set of games against Germany, USA and Ghana, with the former of this particular trio proving troublesome for the Portuguese star in the past.
A tally of 47 goals may make the 28-year-old his country’s joint top scorer of all time but the attacker has never found the net against Die Mannschaft, despite Portugal meeting Germany in three separate international tournaments over the past eight years.
He could find it similarly tough going against Team USA, with manager Jurgen Klinsmann instilling in the American national team a defensive solidarity that has seen current number one and long-time Everton stopper Tim Howard keep six clean sheets in their previous nine qualifiers.
The game against Ghana could prove a more fruitful experience, but with a series of tough fixtures in store before then, and Ronaldo struggling to find much of a scoring rhythm in previous finals with just two World Cup finals goals to his name, it could prove wiser to back Messi.
Barcelona’s superstar goal machine will certainly feel more at home than his Portuguese rival, with the finals taking place in Brazil – somewhere that Messi has experience of playing and scoring for Argentina in.
The World Cup will see the forward pitted against the defences of Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria in three games La Albiceleste are expected to win with ease.
Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 at the last World Cup but can do better against a young Nigeria side, whom they defeated 3-1 in a friendly played back in 2011.
They have also overcome Bosnia with ease on their two previous meetings, including a 2-0 friendly victory over the newly-formed European nation.
That leaves Iran, a team with a poor record at recent World Cups and a side expected to be the whipping boys of the initial round of fixtures.
Should Argentina top their group, which they are backed at 1/6 to do, then a second round date with Switzerland could then provide Messi with more opportunities to add to his tally.
Ronaldo may be basking in the spotlight ahead of the World Cup, but once things kick off, Messi may end up having the last laugh.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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