World Cup Top Goalscorer Daily Preview
Saturday is a terrific day for fans of the great strikers as we get to see three of the top eight men fancied to win the Golden Boot.
Diego Maradona looks likely to pair the La Liga duo of Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi up front for Argentina’s opener against Nigeria. With support from the flanks in the form of the supremely talented Angel di Maria and the Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez, there may well be goals for the strikers in this one.
Whilst most of the focus will be on the diminutive Barcelona genius Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain is the more interesting of the two front men. A more direct, traditional striker, the 22 year old scored an astonishing 27 goals in just 28 Real Madrid starts last season. He is great value at 18/1 to win the World Cup Golden Shoe, a price that will surely tumble with a goal or two in this match. However, Higuain will win just his sixth cap against Nigeria and so is lacking in international experience – especially on this sort of stage.
Messi’s 34 goals last season won him the La Liga Pichichi award for top goalscorer and the world’s best player is 10/1 second favourite to top score in South Africa. There remain suspicions however that Maradona hasn’t quite worked out how to incorporate his natural heir into his starting XI. With defenders likely to concentrate on stopping the 22 year old playmaker, I think there may end up being more chances for his strike partner over the next few weeks.
The 9/2 on Higuain opening the scoring looks the best pick, with the 7/1 on the Real Madrid man scoring two or more goals another interesting bet.
The other of the three leading strikers to feature on Saturday is Wayne Rooney as England open their campaign against the USA in Rustenburg.
Here’s a trivia question for you. Which England player has scored the most international goals since 1 January 2009. Rooney? Lampard? Defoe? No. England’s top striker during that period has been Peter Crouch.
Indeed, Rooney is only joint second in the list as he and Frank Lampard have each scored 6 goals in the last 18 months. Jermain Defoe is just one behind on 5, with Steven Gerrard on 2.
Rooney is 11/1 third favourite to emulate Gary Lineker in 1986 and win the World Cup Golden Shoe. He is England’s talisman, and certainly the Three Lions’ best chance of progressing far into the tournament. However, it should be remembered that Rooney hasn’t scored a goal in a major international tournament since the Euros in 2004 and England’s goals over the last couple of years have been spread around the side more than you might think.
Crouch has already outscored Rooney 3-0 for England in 2010 and so, as ridiculous as it might sound, the 40/1 on the lanky spurs striker winning the Golden Shoe might actually represent better value than backing Rooney.
With Paddy Power offering your money back on losing bets if Rooney scores at any time in the England v USA match, a first goalscorer bet on Crouch at 11/2 or on a more attack-minded Steven Gerrard at 15/2 look great value.
In the third match of the day, South Korea take on Greece in Port Elizabeth.
South Korea have been on a terrific run of form over recent months and I really think they have been underestimated in group B. They have immense enthusiasm and no shortage of international experience, although they may well be without leading striker Lee Dong-Gook for this clash.
Greece will play their defensive, organised game that worked so brilliantly for them at Euro 2004, although bear in mind that on Greece’s one and only previous World Cup qualification they lost 4-0, 4-0 and 2-0.
Mind you, Theofanis Gekas was Europe’s top scorer in World Cup qualification and is 6/1 to open the scoring here.
I would be astounded if Greece score enough goals to do well in the tournament, and the 150/1 on Europe’s leading marksman in qualification gives you some idea of the task facing Otto Rehhagel’s side. I think South Korea might well make the knockouts, and Monaco’s Chu-Young Park is the pick of their frontmen. Back Park to be South Korea’s first goalscorer at 9/2.