Unless a team goes on one of the most remarkable of runs like Greece in Euro 2004, it is reasonably safe to say that the winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa will be won by one of just a handful of nations.
The race for the Golden Boot is a far more difficult prospect to predict. The favourites are of course forwards from the leading sides in world football: David Villa and Fernando Torres of Spain, Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina, Luis Fabiano of Brazil, and Wayne Rooney of England.
None of the above offer tremendous value at roughly 10-1 apiece, with Higuain not even sure of a place in the side. A quirk of fate also shows us that the Golden Boot has only been won by a player from the tournament winners once in the last 25 years – Ronaldo in 2002.
Perhaps then the trick is to predict the dark horse for the tournament.
Argentina’s Diego Milito scored 22 goals in Serie A this season, including the goal that clinched the title. He also scored the winner in the Coppa Italia final, and both goals that clinched the UEFA Champions League, so he is clearly a big game performer.
Milito is available at odds of 33-1 with Bet365
Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast is one of the most feared strikers in Europe, and was top scorer in the English Premier League last season. He is also the all-time record goalscorer for his country. Although the Ivory Coast’s group features football heavyweights Brazil and Portugal, the Portugese are struggling and could not even beat Cape Verde recently – which is the reason backing Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t be advisable. In addition, Drogba could score a hatful against group minnows North Korea. The Ivory Coast could well progress under former England manager Sven Göran Eriksson, meaning they would be feared opposition for any side.
Drogba is available at odds of 22-1 with Bet365
Antonio Di Natale of Italy was the highest goalscorer in Serie A with 29 goals – the same amount as Drogba, but for a far less creative side in Udinese. Udinese finished 15th in Serie A, and it was thanks to the astonishing regularity of Di Natale’s goals that they avoided relegation. In the absence of Luca Toni, Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti, Italy could turn to Di Natale for goals.
Di Natale is available at odds of 50-1 with Bet365
Chile’s Humberto Suazo might not be a household name in the UK, but he scored ten goals in World Cup qualification to make him the top goalscorer from South America – beating Brazil’s Luis Fabiano in the process. Chile tend to play an attacking 3-3-1-3 formation, and create a huge amount of chances. Suazo gets get on the end of a large bunch of them, and could fill his boots in the Group Stage against Switzerland and Honduras.
Suazo is available at odds of 66-1 with Bet365
Diego Forlan of Uruguay is an outside bet. His country aren’t the most flamboyant side in the game, but having won the European Golden Shoe on two occasions, Forlan is always a threat. Furthermore, he scored both Atlético Madrid’s goals in the UEFA Europa League final. Given the chances, he will score goals, and Uruguay will face South Africa, Mexico and France at the World Cup – they have every chance of progressing from a very open Group A.
Forlan is available at odds of 66-1 with Bet365
France’s Nicolas Anelka has had a tumultuous relationship with the national side, but is a constant danger to opposition. In the 2008-2009 season, he was the top scorer in the Barclays Premier League with 19 goals, and last season he maintained a fruitful partnership at Chelsea with Drogba. France’s Group A opposition would ordinarily look very beatable indeed, but their national team coach is Raymond Domenech – meaning anything is possible. Still, such long odds are worth a punt.
Anelka is available at odds of 33-1 with Bet365
Miroslav Klose from Germany has a tremendous goalscoring record at World Cup finals. He scored five goals at both the 2002 and 2006 tournaments, and won the Golden Boot four years ago. Although no team has ever won the title twice, Klose could be the first to do so. Having scored 48 goals for the national side, Germany will be pinning their hopes on the Polish-born striker, despite his profligacy at club level.
Klose is available at odds of 25-1 with Bet365
Landon Donovan of the USA holds the national team records for both goals and assists, and although he tended to play on the right side of midfield for Everton, for the American side he plays either just behind the strikers or as a forward himself. The USA are second favourites to progress from Group C behind England, but Donovan could score goals against Algeria and Slovenia. In the knockout stage anything can happen – as proved when the USA reached the Confederations Cup final last summer, beating Spain in the process.
Donovan is available at odds of 100-1 with Bet365