As the heat is turned up on the remaining nations to deliver and end their World Cup campaign successfully (or at least heroically), so to the race for the Golden Boot continues to get interesting. James Rodriguez won the award at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but was absent from the pitch as Colombia exited the tournament in the last-16 this time around at the hands of England by way of a penalty shootout. Three Lions frontman Harry Kane loves getting goals of course, and sits atop the goalscoring charts ahead of the quarter-finals getting under way. It is therefore now time to ask: is the race for this year’s Golden Boot now a two-horse race?
Kane may be top of the pile with six goals prior to the next round of games getting underway, but Cristiano Ronaldo sits second on four. The problem there is, of course, that reigning European champions Portugal exited at the same stage as Colombia this year at the hands of Uruguay. Sitting alongside Ronaldo, however, is Man Utd and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku, who has been enjoying the tournament so far with four goals of his own. That said, this year’s Golden Boot race is far from a two-horse race, though you would arguably do well to back either Kane or Lukaku to earn the accolade in the next couple of weeks.
Russia pair Artem Dzyuba and Denis Cheryshev have three strikes each, and the host nation are still in the competition as well and so they could potentially provide a real challenge if Lukaku is to remain ahead of them. Russia take on Croatia on Saturday, and while that is by no means the easiest game there is still the chance that at least one of these two could add to their tally, especially if they can get past Zlatko Dalic’s midfield which remains one of the toughest still in the tournament. Lukaku won’t have an east time of things in the quarters, though, as Belgium go up against a Brazil side who are sensing redemption as they look to banish the ghosts of four years ago and win the cup.
Kylian Mbappé of France and Edinson Cavani of Uruguay are both also on three, and the pair will go head to head in possibly the most mouthwatering tie of the next stage. When two former world champions meet the match can go one of two ways – it can be a freescoring barnburner, or it can be a tight, methodical match. Hopefully we will see the former in this instance as plenty of goals equals real competition for Lukaku and Kane at the top of the scoring charts!
Philippe Coutinho and Neymar (both of Brazil) and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez are on two each and so will need to put in some real effort in the latter stages of the tournament if they want to seriously battle for the award. While the Golden Boot race is not a two-horse one yet, things will likely start shaping up nicely following the conclusion of the quarter-finals as eight become four.
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