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FIFA World Cup: Who are the frontrunners in the Golden Boot race?

Netherland's Cody Gakpo, Argentina's Lionel Messi, France's Kylian Mbappe and Brazil's Richarlison are all firmly in the race for the 2022 World Cup Golden Boot.

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Netherland’s Cody Gakpo, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, France’s Kylian Mbappe and Brazil’s Richarlison are all firmly in the race for the 2022 World Cup Golden Boot.
Photo: AFP

As the Qatar World Cup approaches the quarterfinals stage, we look at which players are favourites to land the famed Golden Boot award.

The Golden Boot is awarded to the highest scoring player at the FIFA World Cup, previous winners include England’s Harry Kane at Russia 2018, Colombia’s James Rodriguez at Brazil 2014 and Germany’s Thomas Müller at South Africa 2010.

With eight teams and seven matches left in the 2022 Qatar World Cup, here are the players firmly in the race for the prestigious award:

Cody Gakpo, Netherlands

The 23-year-old Dutch sensation has so far proven to be the break-out star of the Qatar World Cup, with his three goals leading the Netherlands through the group stage.

The PSV Eidenhoven forward scored in every group stage game with a versatile combination of finishes, one with his left foot, another with his right and a header to top it off.

With the Netherlands set to take on Argentina in the quarterfinals, coach Louis Van Gaal will likely look to rely on the forward’s killer instinct whether playing off the wing or down the middle.

Netherlands' forward Cody Gakpo celebrates

Netherlands’ forward Cody Gakpo celebrates a goal.
Photo: AFP

Kylian Mbappe, France

A player always expected to fulfill expectations, PSG star Kylian Mbappe has capably taken on the role of France’s talisman at the World Cup, a feat that deserves additional credit given Ballon D’or winner Karim Benzema’s pre-tournament injury.

Leading the tournament’s goalscoring charts on five goals, the 23-year-old has furthered his status as one of the best footballers in the world.

Having already won the 2018 World Cup with France, the forward is a shoe in to take out the Golden Boot should France make it through their tough quarterfinal against England.

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 26: Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates after his goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between France and Denmark at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar on November 26, 2022. Mustafa Yalcin / Anadolu Agency (Photo by MUSTAFA YALCIN / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

Kylian Mbappe celebrates after his goal during in the World Cup Group D match between France and Denmark.
Photo: AFP

Bukayo Saka, England

Looking to eliminate Mbappe from the World Cup and the Golden Boot race is England winger Bukayo Saka.

The Arsenal youngster has looked electric in his three appearances at the World Cup, scoring a double in the opening game against Iran and adding another in the round of 16 against Senegal.

Currently sitting on three goals alongside teammate Marcus Rashford, it appears Saka is the more likely of the two to land the Golden Boot due to England manager Gareth Southgate’s habit of starting the 21-year-old from the outset.

England's forward Bukayo Saka celebrates with Phil Foden (L) and Harry Kane after scoring his team's third goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between England and Senegal at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on 4 December, 2022.

England’s forward Bukayo Saka (R) celebrates with Phil Foden (L) and Harry Kane after scoring during the round of 16 match against Senegal.
Photo: AFP

Richarlison, Brazil

Brazil striker Richarlison has embodied Joga Bonito (the beautiful game) at the Qatar World Cup, lighting up the tournament with incredible goals and celebrations to go along with them.

Richarlison lit the world alight in Brazil’s World Cup opener, scoring a double in a 2-nil win over Serbia with his first goal coming from a simple rebound off Serbia’s keeper.

His second was arguably the goal of the tournament so far, initially mis-controlling a pass from Vinicius Jr the Tottenham Hotspur forward instinctively pivoted before smashing home with an acrobatic bicycle kick.

Brazil have no shortage of goals in the team and with Croatia coming up in the quarterfinals Richarlison could very well continue his impeccable goalscoring form.

Brazil's forward Richarlison scores his team's second goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G football match between Brazil and Serbia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on 24 November, 2022.

Brazil’s forward Richarlison scores his second goal during against Serbia with an acrobatic volley.
Photo: AFP

Lionel Messi, Argentina

One player who can never be counted out when it comes to goalscoring, Lionel Messi has carried Argentina through a rough start to their World Cup.

Messi opened his account with a penalty against Saudi Arabia before pulling off a superb long range finish to beat Mexico’s cult hero goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to secure a vital 2-nil win in the penultimate Group B match.

The 35-year-old superstar hit the back of net yet again in Argentina’s 2-1 win over Australia to take his Qatar World Cup tally to three goals in his 1000th professional match.

Argentina's forward #10 Lionel Messi celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Mexico at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on November 26, 2022. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C football match between Argentina and Mexico.
Photo: AFP

Olivier Giroud, France

Forming a dangerous combination with the aforementioned Kylian Mbappe, French striker Olivier Giroud opened his World Cup account with a double against Australia in their first match of group stage action.

The AC Milan striker has already made history at the Qatar World Cup, breaking Thierry Henry’s record to become the all-time highest goalscorer in French men’s football after scoring in a 3-1 win over Poland in the round of 16.

Giroud has an outside chance of overtaking Mbappe if his side can make it past the free-scoring England team in the quarterfinals.

Portugal forward Gonçalo Ramos during a match against Switzerland in the round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup at Lusail Stadium, in Doha, Qatar. 06 December, 2022

Portugal forward Gonçalo Ramos celebrates scoring against Switzerland in the round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup.
Photo: AFP

Gonçalo Ramos, Portugal

A late entry into the Golden Boot Race, Gonçalo Ramos announced his arrival on the international stage with a hattrick in his first start for Portugal in a resounding 6-1 win over Switzerland in the round of 16.

Having only played 33 minutes of football for Portugal prior to the match against Switzerland, manager Fernando Santos took the risk of starting the 21-year-old over veteran star Cristiano Ronaldo in his side’s first knockout match of the tournament.

Ramos gratefully took the opportunity with both hands, becoming the youngest player to score a World Cup hat-trick since Hungary’s Florian Albert in 1962.

It’s now hard to see Santos not giving Ramos another start in their quarterfinal against Morocco, when the eyes of the world will look to the Benfica striker for another stellar performance.

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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