With the World Cup now moving into it’s secondary stages and the last 16 phase having already started, we are well on the way to determining the new world champions following reigning champs Spain’s early exit. Fantasy managers will have used the recent transfer window to move eliminated players out and bring in the stars that remain, and with that in mind we will now be taking a look at one of the biggest races of the summer – the race for the Golden Boot.
This one is always a bit of a tasty one to look at, because there are several considerations to take into account – not only which strikers are lethal in front of the net, but which ones feature for a nation that one could reasonably expect to go the farthest – in other words, ideally, the final. These two considerations do not always go alongside one another, as a hattrick in the early stages can easily push a player ahead of one who appears in the final – but, generally, a lethal striker playing for one of the favourites should serve our fantasy managers well.
At the time of writing, Argentinian Lionel Messi and Germany star Thomas Müller are doing well in the ranks with four goals from three games each, but one of the stars of the tournament thus far, Neymar – who turns out for host nation Brazil – has four of his own, and the trend here is that the top three play for sides that you could see winning the cup – and indeed teams who have triumphed before.
Colombian midfielder James Rodríguez put in a star turn in the showing against Uruguay, and the South Americans have surpassed all expectations by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history at the expense of their continental rivals, who won their first two personal World Cups in 1930 (the first ever) and 1950.
Rodriguez himself showed the world just why Monaco forked out €45.00m with a brace, taking his tally to five from four games – top of the pops so far. While one may fancy Rodriguez to score in any game in which he features at the moment – his first against Uruguay was a sure contender for goal of the tournament, quite an achievement in itself given the number of top notch screamers we’ve seen in Brazil so far – it seems to be a question of how long Costa Rica can defy the odds. They face host nation Brazil on 4th July, and that is as tough a task as they are likely to face – Brazil on their own soil. Rodriguez might grab a goal or even two, but if the likes of Argentina and Germany can keep their own runs up surely Messi or Müller will still prove the better bets in the long term.
Brazil’s appearance in the final seems to be written in the stars at this stage, however, so of all prospects perhaps opt for Neymar if you haven’t done so already – the Barcelona star is top quality, and has surely earned the right to be mentioned in discussions alongside the likes of club team-mate Messi when it comes to the world’s elite.
If our fantasy managers are feeling particularly cheeky and are able to find a way to raise the funds, perhaps a two-man strikeforce including two of these three top scorers (Messi, Müller, Neymar) could be the difference between winning our fantasy tournament or ending with a runners-up medal at best.