With only two games left in the FIFA World Cup, there is still a big question yet to be answered, who will win the Golden Boot? The Golden Boot is the award given to the individual who scores the most goals at the tournament. In previous years, some of the winners of the amazing accolade have been such prestigious names as Miroslav Klose, the Brazilian Ronaldo, Gerd Müller, Eusebio, Just Fontaine, and Sándor Kocsis.
Back in 2010 at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, there was a four-way tie for the Golden Boot between Diego Forlán, Wesley Sneijder, David Villa, and Thomas Müller, all of whom had five goals throughout the event. Müller ended up winning the award because he had accumulated more assists during tournament, three, than the other players, who all had just one.
France’s prolific scorer, Just Fontaine, who netted 13 goals back in 1958 when the tournament was held in Sweden, holds the record for most goals scored in a single tournament. The next two closest players to ever achieving that feat were Sándor Kocsis, with 11 goals in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, and Gerd Müller, with 10 goals in Mexico 1970, which was also the first FIFA World Cup to be broadcast around the world in color television.
This year, the race has been very tight again, with Colombia’s James Rodríguez leading the pack early. He scored a goal in every single game he played during this years FIFA World Cup, and two against Uruguay in the first knockout game. It was an incredible feat for a player who will turn just 23 years old on July 12, 2014. James Rodríguez finished the tournament with 6 goals and 2 assists in five games, and he averaged being on the field just 67 minutes per goal scored. He is still leading the hunt for the Golden Boot at this tournament, even though he will have played two less goals than his two closest competitors.
Thomas Müller, the winner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot, could become the first person ever to win the award in back to back tournaments. He would also become the third German player in a row to win the accolade, after Miroslav Klose won the award in 2006 when the tournament was held in his home country of Germany. Müller is second in the race for the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists through six games this tournament.
Müller could have scored twice in the semifinals of this year’s tournament after opening the scoring in Germany’s 7-1 rout of Brazil. For the second goal Müller made a great run to get open in the box, was found by Toni Kroos, and instead of finishing for himself, showed his unselfishness and respect for his fellow compatriot Klose. Müller laid the ball off to Klose right around the penalty area, where he fired a shot at goal, which was saved by Júlio César, but then easily followed up by Klose into the bottom corner of the net. It was Klose’s 16th goal ever at the FIFA World Cup, a record by any player. He was previously tired with Brazil’s Ronaldo with 15 goals. Müller was then unfortunate not to get another goal in the game against Brazil since Germany scored five more, but he still has a chance for more glory in the FIFA World Cup final against Lionel Messi and Argentina on Sunday.
Messi is the other player who could win the Golden Boot. He would likely need a hat trick to do it though, since he only has four goals and one assist in the World Cup so far. He could also score two goals and have two assists, and after watching Germany’s attacking display against Brazil, it seems anything could happen at this tournament, especially from a player with as much talent and skill as Lionel Messi. Argentina struggled to score against the Netherlands though, and without Angel di María and a fully fit Sergio Agüero to help Messi unlock the German defense, it could be very hard for the diminutive Barcelona forward to produce that much offense.
Neymar, who was injured in the quarterfinal clash against James Rodríguez’s Colombia, is tied with Messi on four goals and one assist, but is actually ahead of the Argentine because he has played less minutes. Karim Benzema rounds out the top five with three goals and two assists through just five games. The world will have to wait until Sunday’s finals of the FIFA World Cup to see if Germany’s Thomas Müller or Argentina’s Lionel Messi, can catch up to and surpass Colombia’s James Rodríguez in order to answer the question of who will win this year’s Golden Boot.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash