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World Cup 2018: The race for the top scorer

Written by: Rohan Philip

Can Salah make it to the top? Will James do it again? Or can Messi or Ronaldo finally end up being the top scorers?

The world’s premier international footballing extravaganza, the FIFA World Cup, never fails to throw up its share of surprises, with the likes of James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller announcing themselves onto the world stage in previous editions of the quadrennial tournament.

Being the top scorer at a World Cup is the pinnacle of individual success at the finals and has been awarded to some of the world’s true greats in the past. We at Khel Now, take a look at the most likely candidate to take home the coveted prize in Russia this summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo- Portugal

The Portuguese Champions League winner endured a tough start to his league campaign, but quickly found his feet and netted a massive 45 goals in 48 appearances for Real Madrid across all competitions.

Ronaldo will spearhead a largely revamped Portuguese side from the one that went all the way at the Euros in 2016. At 34, this might be the last World Cup the Portuguese forward will play and he will no doubt be determined to leave his stamp on the tournament. 

Lionel Messi- Argentina

Ronaldo’s greatest footballing rival and arguably one of the greatest players to grace the pitch, Lionel Messi will hope to continue his title-winning form from last season with Barcelona.

Argentina can boast of one of the most potent attacks at the World Cup, with Messi as the main man. The 30-year-old has scored 50 goals in 58 appearances across all competitions for club and country and will hope to take this onto Russia. 


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Mohamed Salah- Egypt

The former Chelsea flop made a triumphant return to the Premier League with Liverpool after a successful spell with Roma in Italy. The Egyptian was the star of his country’s qualification and is the only man to have come close to matching the goalscoring exploits of Ronaldo and Messi in recent years.

Salah is racing against time to be fit for Egypt’s first game in Russia following an injury he sustained in the Champions League final. With an incredible 46 goals in all competitions for club and country, he looks like a daunting prospect for opposition defenders at the World Cup.



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Robert Lewandowski- Poland

The Bayern Munich and Poland striker epitomizes the classic powerful centre-forward, with exceptional hold-up play, strength in the air and finishing ability. The Pole finds himself in the highly unpredictable Group H, with Senegal, Colombia and Japan.

Poland will rely heavily on Lewandowski’s goalscoring prowess to see them through the group stages. The 29-year-old has scored 42 goals across all competitions for club and country this season.

Thomas Muller- Germany

The top scorer from 2010, Thomas Muller has a tendency to find the net at the World Cup, having excelled in both editions of the competition in which he has taken part so far.

While he may not possess the skills, pace or finishing ability of any of the other players on this list, Muller interprets the game better than almost anyone in world football, with his exceptional positional sense being his greatest strength. The Bayern Munich man has scored 17 goals for club and country this season.

Edinson Cavani- Uruguay

Paris Saint Germain’s all-time top scorer, Edinson Cavani formed one of Europe’s most lethal attacking trios with Brazil’s Neymar and France’s Kylian Mbappe for the 2017-2018 season. The Uruguayan forward possesses exceptional aerial strength as well as the ability to score from anywhere in the box, making him a top-class forward.

The 31-year-old has scored 40 goals for club and country this season and will look to combine with Luis Suarez to deliver the goals for the South Americans.

Neymar- Brazil


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Brazil’s golden boy, Neymar will look to finish what he started in 2014 and lead a very strong Brazil side to World Cup glory. The 26-year-old had the world’s eyes on him following his blockbuster move to PSG, but he has hit the ground running at the French capital, scoring 28 goals in 30 appearances before having his season cut short through injury.

The Brazilian possesses immense technical ability and will hope to have recovered completely from his injury to spearhead his team's attack at Russia.

Antoine Griezmann- France

Another player who will be looking to go all the way with his country is French forward Antoine Griezmann. The Atletico Madrid man finished his club season by winning the Europa League final, a game in which he scored two goals.

Amidst speculation about his future, the 26-year-old will want to put his best foot forward in Russia. He will be supported by a highly-talented French squad that can boast of the likes of Paul Pogba and Mbappe in its ranks.

Falcao- Colombia

A lot was said about Radamel Falcao following his failure to impress during his time in the Premier League.

However, the Colombian has gone a long way to silencing his critics following his return to the French league with Monaco, where he has rediscovered his goalscoring touch. El Tigre has scored 22 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions this season.

Romelu Lukaku- Belgium

The big Belgian striker hit the ground running in his first season at Manchester United as well as becoming Belgium’s all-time leading goalscorer this season.

However, an unfortunate ankle injury would keep Lukaku from starting the FA Cup final against his former club Chelsea, following a season where he earned the trust of his manager Jose Mourinho, becoming one of his stalwarts. The 25-year-old has scored 31 goals in 58 appearances this season.


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The World Cup is the pinnacle of any player’s career and very often it surprises us with the rise of new and exciting talents. Only time will tell if any of the players on this list will indeed win the Top scorer award, or if football has something else up its sleeve, as it so often does.       

Published: Wed Jun 13, 2018 02:06 PM IST

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