The 2018 World Cup is just a couple of months away, and as excitement builds for the big event in Russia, world-class strikers and forwards across the globe are trying to get themselves into the best shape and form in an attempt to lead their respective nations to glory this summer. They will also have their eye on the prestigious Golden Boot, which was first awarded to Italy’s Paolo Rossi in 1982 and has since been won by the likes of Gary Lineker and the Brazilian Ronaldo. Who is expected to lead the way in goal-scoring in 2018?
Lionel Messi has achieved everything in the game at club level with Barcelona, but he is still hoping to cement his legacy by winning the World Cup with Argentina this summer. The 30-year-old isn’t quite as prolific for his country, with 61 goals in 123 appearances, but he is currently the favourite to head the top goal-scoring charts in Russia. Messi secured qualification almost single-handedly for Argentina when he netted a sublime hat-trick in their final game against Ecuador last October. He will now be confident that his country can go one better than last time, when they lost out to Germany in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The world’s most expensive player will spearhead Brazil’s World Cup challenge following a successful debut season in Paris with PSG. Unlike Messi, Neymar has already enjoyed success in international football after captaining Brazil to Olympic gold medal glory in 2016. The 25-year-old also has a better goal-scoring rate, with 53 in 83 appearances. Neymar’s exceptional dribbling and finishing ability means that he will almost definitely be in the running for the Golden Boot if Brazil can advance to the latter stages of the tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo is now 33 years old, but he shows no signs of slowing down after impressing again for Real Madrid during the 2017/18 season. The star striker will lead the line and captain Portugal as they look to follow their shock Euro 2016 victory with another international tournament win. Ronaldo has appeared in three previous World Cups – 2006, 2010 and 2014 – but has never won the Golden Boot. However, he netted at a rate of a goal a game in both 2016 and 2017, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see CR7 produce a few vintage displays to head the scoring charts this time around.
Germany are the favourites to win the World Cup, and they may rely on an up-and-coming 21-year-old to supply the all-important goals this summer. Timo Werner scored three goals in Germany’s 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup win last summer and has a total of seven in 11 appearances overall. Blessed with great pace and ball control, Werner will also be an ideal foil for Germany’s other attacking stars as the reigning champions aim to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy for a second successive tournament.
England haven’t fared well in international tournaments during the last two decades, but in Harry Kane they have a world-class striker capable of changing the game at any moment. Kane has been scoring goals for fun during the last three years with Spurs, and he will now be tasked with spearheading a young and inexperienced England side.
Among the other big-name players in the running include Antoine Griezmann, Romelu Lukaku, Luis Suárez, Sergio Agüero, Álvaro Morata and Thomas Müller. Whoever leads the charts at the end of the tournament, it is sure to be an incredible month of football.