Just a few days in and the FIFA World Cup has already thrown a few surprises our way. Ronaldo’s last minute heroics against Spain alongside the astonishing end to the Iran vs Morocco encounter have thrown Group B into confusion, while Russia’s opening win means the home team is already half way towards finishing in the top two of Group Aand proceeding to the knockout stages for the first time in the nation’s history.
But perhaps it is Messi’s missed penalty to allow Iceland to cling on for a draw against Argentina that has had the biggest impact on one of the most popular “games within a game” – the golden boot competition.
Keep watching the odds
With every passing game, the odds keep evolving. Prior to the Iceland debacle, Messi was at 9/1 to finish top scorer. After it, those odds had drifted to 16/1. It’s therefore important to keep track of the odds at a site like Mr Green Casino, before, during and after each game, to see how things pan out. With that caveat kept firmly in mind, let’s take a look at the leading contenders.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
It stands to reason that the longer a team remains in the competition, the more opportunities its star striker will have to add more goals to his world cup tally. But such is Ronaldo’s presence out in the middle that he is the early favourite to finish the campaign as top goal scorer despite the fact that bookmakers at the same time are offering only 8/1 for the team to reach the semi finals stage. Part of that is in reaction to his three goals against Spain, but it’s worth keeping in mind that both Morocco and Iran have strong defensive records, so don’t expect either of the remaining group matches to be goal fests. There is also the fact that Portugal are likely to come up against France in the quarter final. With all that in mind, 2/1 seem very short odds, and they might well have lengthened in a week’s time.
Diego Costa – Spain
Spain are fancied to make it to the semis, and if they do so, it will have a lot to do with Costa. He scored twice against Portugal, but will be facing the same constraints as Ronaldo in the remaining group matches. If Spain can win Group B, they are likely to be rewarded with an easier path through the knockout stages, and look almost certain to make the semis barring a major upset. All of that suggests that at this early stage, Costa might be a wiser punt for the Golden Boot, despite the 7/1 odds.
Neymar – Brazil
He’s the most valuable man in football, and playing for the team most bookmakers fancy as the favourites to take the event. The fact that he’s only third favourite to finish lead goal scorer says as much about the quality and depth of the Brazil attack as it does about anything else. Odds are fluctuating around the 10/1 level and that’s before he’s even taken to the field – a word to the wise: grab them while you can, Neymar’s stock will only rise as the tournament continues.
Antoine Griezmann – France
France’s star striker did not set the world alight in his opening outing against Australia, and the real talking point was not the penalty he took to put France ahead but the fact that he was to be the object of Josh Risdon’s sliding challenge, bringing video replaysinto the equation. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and the next two group games against Peru and Denmark could see them get into their stride. Expect those Griezmann odds of 10/1 to start sliding over the next two weeks.