The 2014 World Cup is in full swing and some of the world’s best players have already been in action. Goals have been flying in from the likes of Neymar, Robin Van Persie and Mario Balotelli, but who has what it takes to be the competition’s top scorer?
Van Persie was the joint top scorer in qualifying along with Luis Suarez of Uruguay on 11 goals. Deon McCaulay also scored 11 for Belize but they didn’t qualify for the finals. That left Manchester United man Van Persie and Liverpool’s Suarez among the favorites to grab the golden boot.
And Van Persie made the perfect start by scoring twice in Holland’s 5-1 demolition of Spain. Suarez, meanwhile, sat out Uruguay’s 3-1 defeat against Costa Rica as he recovers from an injury.
Brazilian poster boy Neymar also scored twice as the hosts beat Croatia 3-1 on the opening day, whilst Arjen Robben grabbed a brace in Holland’s victory against Spain.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will both be hoping to reinforce their reputations as brilliant finishers in this World Cup, whilst Messi’s team mate Sergio Agüero could well score some important goals.
And German legend Miroslav Klose knows that he is within touching distance of a World Cup scoring record - two goals in this tournament would see him become the outright leader ahead of Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
Ultimately, the top scorer will more than likely play for a side that progresses quite far in the tournament and for that reason alone it would be foolhardy to look past Brazil, Holland, Spain, Italy, France, Argentina and Germany.
England fans will be hoping that Wayne Rooney can break an eight-year-long record and finally score in a World Cup. But the standout candidates to be top scorer are Neymar, Van Persie, Balotelli, Messi, Agüero and Klose.
Neymar scored from 25-yards before adding a penalty in his first game, before Van Persie scored a world class header and then slotted home after dispossessing Spanish keeper Iker Casillas. Balotelli headed the winner for Italy against England and will be hoping to score many more.
But a special mention has to go to Robben who played behind Van Persie against Spain and scored two brilliant goals. If he can continue the form he has shown, we could see a shock name at the top of the goal scoring charts.
The golden boot has been won by the likes of Eusebio, Mario Kempes and Gary Lineker. But if recent tournaments are anything to go by it will be a German this summer.
In 2006, Klose won the award with five goals, before Thomas Muller won it with the same number of goals as Uruguay’s Diego Forlan, David Villa of Spain and Dutchman Wesley Sneijder. Muller won the top prize thanks to his three assists compared to one each for the others.
It would be no surprise to see Germany progress a long way in the competition so it is a very real possibility that a German could be the top scorer.
Joachim Low’s men work well as a unit and the goals are spread throughout the side, but with players like Muller and Klose, there is always a chance to see some great finishing.
But the bookies’ favorite is Messi. Argentina are one of the favorites to win the tournament, and if they do that it will mean Messi has had a great tournament. This could be his year, and along with fellow South Americans Agüero and Neymar he will be looking to find the net as often as possible.
The hosts will want their poster boy Neymar to be top scorer in a tournament that they win, but there are many challengers - both for the trophy and the golden boot.