We couldn’t start off this preview without mentioning Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur. You’d have heard a lot more noise of people singing his praises saying just how well Kane has played this season if it wasn’t for the freak of nature, Erling Haaland. Kane is at the forefront of everything whether he is donning the white of Spurs or England and that is why he is joint favourite to lift this award.
Rewind back to Russia in 2018 and then 24-year-old Kane won this award two goals clear of everyone else with six. There is an argument to be made that the same should happen again, with England’s penalty taker being the Spurs man and his bona fide finishing ability, it is difficult to back against the 29-year-old making it two golden boots in consecutive tournaments – making him the first player to achieve this feat and the only player to win the award twice.
With Kane’s red-hot form for Tottenham in the Premier League in the first portion of the season, it’s hard to see how he won’t score goals for this talented England side. He has 12 goals in 15 league games, and this represents a player who will have no problems translating that form into goals for his national team as he is just two goals from equalling Wayne Rooney’s goal record for England and what better place to do so than on the greatest stage of them all in front of millions, the World Cup.
When Kylian Mbappe announced himself to the world for Monaco in the 2016/17 season, many would have thought that there was no way that he could’ve kept that level up, but he seems to have done so and then some. Six years on, Mbappe is now considered the heir to either Messi or Ronaldo’s throne and has already tasted World Cup glory when he was just 19.
The current World Cup champions, France, have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the tournament and if you’ve watched Mbappe play, you’ll see that most of his goals are engineered due to his breath-taking pace and finesse. So, with that in mind, added with the wealth of talent the French boast, it’s the perfect concoction which Deschamps will hope he can taste victory again.
It’s no secret, Kylian Mbappe is a phenomenon. He manages to steal the limelight in Paris away from football superstars Neymar and Lionel Messi. He is sitting at the top of the Ligue 1 top goal scorers’ chart with 12 and has scored over 200 goals in his short career aged only 24.
The only thing Les Bleus must avoid is the World Cup winners curse, but with Mbappe up front humiliating defenders, it’s easy to see the curse being smashed to pieces.
What is left to be said about the Brazilian? He has captured the imagination of millions ever since his days at Santos. He has inspired a whole generation of footballers and has kept his incredible standards up to insane levels.
Ever since he first wore the famous yellow of Brazil, he has had the weight of an entire country on his back, and he has coped with it brilliantly. The question is, what can’t Neymar do? What can’t he achieve with Brazil? The answer is not a great deal.
This version of Brazil’s squad is the perfect balance of youth and experience, and Neymar brings that star quality. It is hard to imagine a Brazilian attack not going through the 30-year-old. He has 11 goals and 9 assists to his name in Ligue 1 this season which is indicative of a player who is involved in everything.
Many expect the South Americans to head deep into this tournament and with Neymar in the form that he is, you’d expect the goals to flow.
Picture this, Neymar scores the goal in Qatar to surpass the great Pele and become Brazil’s highest ever goal scorer. You read that right, Neymar is just 3 goals away from smashing the record and there couldn’t be a more fitting stage for the superstar to put his name up in lights and his name down in Brazilian history.
The World Cup. The only trophy missing from Lionel Messi’s trophy cabinet. How he will have room to fit it in is another question, but he will know lifting the famous trophy will round off the perfect career. We could delve into stats about why Messi could with the Golden Boot, but 756 career goals should be a sufficient argument.
The Argentine just knows where the back of the net is. He is 35 years old and still scoring week in, week out in France. The squad he will be playing with in Qatar is rich with star quality and it’s the perfect recipe for Messi to succeed and guide La Albiceleste to World Cup glory and firmly cement himself as the greatest player of all time.
Argentina should cruise to the latter stages of the tournament and if they do so, its predictable that Messi will be spearheading their pursuit of the trophy, contributing in his typical fashion of orchestrating the attack, setting the tempo and scoring goals.
Our pick – Lionel Messi
The stage is set for Messi to lead his country to World Cup glory. He is in fine form in France and is showing no signs of slowing down, even at 35 years of age. Widely regarded as the greatest of all time, the Argentinian man is the top scorer for his country with 90 with six of those coming in World Cup tournaments and with Argentina’s group consisting of Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland, it lends itself kindly to Messi getting chances and scoring goals.