The World Cup gets underway in Russia shortly and excitement is beginning to hit fever pitch.
Squads have been announced and line-ups are already being formulated in many a fan’s mind. Brazil, Spain, France, Argentina, and Germany are all among the favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy.
But one of the most ever-intriguing subplots is who will end up with the Golden Boot by tournament’s end?
James Rodriguez snapped up the award in 2014. However, the star-studded forwards of world football will be in contention this time around.
The Ladbrokes News crew take a look at some of the top contenders…
The current and former Barcelona stars are joint-favourites to win the award. The pair are the main men for their respective teams but there are flaws to pick at.
Messi will have to carry a relatively poor Argentina squad. However, Jorge Sampaoli arguably plays the type of football that could see the Argentines bag a lot of goals.
Question marks remain over Neymar’s fitness heading into the summer showpiece. But the Brazilian superstar managed four at the last World Cup despite missing the quarter-final.
The World Player of the Year has had another phenomenal season and could yet end up with another Champions League crown to his name.
He’ll carry Portugal’s hopes again but Fernando Santos’ side are more solid than expansive. And they also have Spain, and a resolute Iran in their group.
The Selecao das Quinas should qualify for the latter stages so Ronaldo should plunder a few.
The Atletico Madrid frontman will be France’s key weapon in their bid to win the World Cup. And the 27-year-old has had a superb season for Diego Simeone’s side.
Griezmann has bagged 29 goals this season for Atleti and was the top goalscorer at Euro 2016 with six strikes.
France are in a group with Australia, Denmark, and Peru – and look like they’ll go a long way in the tournament. Les Bleus were top scorers in the last major tournament and the Basque native will spearhead the French offensive.
Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller has been a staple of the Germany attack for years now. The 28-year-old has 38 goals in 90 senior appearances for Die Mannschaft.
And Muller has also been in the top-two in the race for the Golden Boot at the last two World Cups. He’s generally the man for the big occasion. And with Germany expected to reach the latter stages, Muller will be hopeful of collecting a few scalps along the way.
Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata are both at 25/1, and Spain are one of the favourites. La Roja look somewhat back to their sparkling best. However, neither are guaranteed to start and Spain generally share their goals amongst the side.
Mohamed Salah has had an immense season for Liverpool and booked his country’s passage to Russia with a last-minute penalty.
Egypt aren’t expected to go far, but they’re in a weak group alongside the hosts, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay. Salah is 40/1 to top the charts.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing