The 2018 World Cup in Russia kicks off in Moscow at 4pm on Thursday and many will have their opinions on which team will be lifting the trophy just 31 days later.
Plenty of goals will be scored along the way across the 64-match tournament, but which player will individually grab the most and follow in the footsteps of the like of Eusebio, Gerd Muller, Ronaldo and Miroslav Klose to pick up the Golden Boot award.
We’ve analysed the trends of the last 52 years that have ultimately produced past winners to help us narrow down the ten front runners for this summer statistically…
“84.6% of Golden Boot winners reached the semi-final or beyond with their nation”
Naturally the more games played the higher the likelihood a player has of challenging to become the top goalscorer, so a deep run in the tournament is hugely significant.
84.6% of the Golden Boot winners in the last half century have reached the semi-final or beyond, though surprisingly only three of the last 13 top goalscorers have also lifted the trophy, Ronaldo was the last man to achieve the double in 2002.
In fact, over half of past GB winners (53.8%) since 1966 could only help their nation to a third-place finish in the competition.
While it’s difficult to predict which teams will get that far in Russia, using the bookmaker odds will allow us to conclude which teams they view of having the best chance of reaching the last four.
We are not necessarily looking for potential winners, but instead teams that will play the maximum seven matches and Brazil, Germany, Spain and France are considered the four nations that will stay for the duration.
“24.7 has been the average age of the Golden Boot winner since 1966”
It is often said that footballers ‘peak’ at a certain age, widely considered to be between the ages of 27 and 29, though this is dependant of their preferred position on the field.
Over the last 52 years, the Golden Boot winner has been ripe average age of 24.7, with Germany’s Thomas Muller becoming the youngest winner of the award aged 20 in 2010 and Croatia’s Davor Suker the oldest at aged 30 back in 1998.
Eight of the last 13 GB winners have been aged between 24 and 27, suggesting the forward-thinking player hits his peak ability slightly earlier than others possibly benefiting from younger, fresher legs.
“World Cup top goalscorers have averaged 0.62+ goals per game domestically”
Recent form has a big impact on an attackers confidence, especially when preparing to play in the biggest football tournament on the planet.
Eight of the last 13 GB winners have averaged at least one goal every two games for their club in all competitions in the season prior to the World Cup, with the average goals to games ratio at 0.63.
Interestingly, it may also prove beneficial for players not to have played too many club matches and therefore avoid so called ‘burnout’ with nine of the last 13 winners playing no more than 40 games, with only Neymar (30) and Diego Costa (23) of the 2018 crop taking to the field less than 40 times this term.
“92.3% of Golden Boot winners scored at least two goals in the group stages”
World Cup top goalscorers since 1966 have needed a minimum of five goals to be crowned top marksman, though have often needed more, with five goals only being enough for German duo Miroslav Klose in 2010 and Thomas Muller four years later.
What’s apparent however is that getting off to a flying start and grabbing early goals in the group stage will not only improve their chances of being in the running, but also increase their teams chances of going deep in the tournament.
92.3% (12/13) of the past winners have all found the back of the net at least twice before proceeding onto the knockout rounds.
Players with perceived favourable group draws are therefore likely to see increased goalscoring opportunities and develop an increased advantage as a result.
Analysis of the defensive records of group opponents during qualification can give an indication of the challenges each individual will be faced with in the early stages in Russia.
Of course it should be taken into account that in qualification nations will have faced weaker opponents and therefore their ‘goals against’ averages may not give a true reflection of how they will fare against much stronger outfits in the finals.
“…the Goal Machine?”
Neymar was the only player to match all four aspects of past trends for the Golden Boot winners and is therefore our outstanding selection to back this year in Russia.
The Brazilian is currently available at around 10/1 with most bookmakers, however 888Sport are offering a huge 80/1 for Neymar to bag the most goals in Russia and you can get this exclusive offer HERE. (T&C’s Apply | New Customers)
Intriguingly, both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were only able to match one of four of the statistical criteria, with their age being a negative factor as well as the apparent lack of quality they have surrounding them this summer.
Two others worthy of a mention are French ace Antoine Griezmann, matching three of four, though missed out on a clean sweep by the slightest of margins – get him at 12/1 HERE.
Finally England’s Harry Kane, prolific for Spurs and hoping to continue his form when he proudly captains his nation this summer – get him at 16/1 HERE.
Let us know who your’ll be backing in the comments below or Tweet us @AccaStatsUK!