The World Cup is inching ever nearer, and there are plenty of betting markets for punters to get involved with over the month long tournament. A lot of focus will be on the Golden Ball winner (player of the tournament) with the best players in the world vying to join a list of winners that includes the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Pele and Bobby Charlton. Tom Powell assesses the main contenders for the Golden Ball and picks out his best bets…
Tom’s recommended tips:
It may surprise a few to learn that Golden Boot (top scorer) winners rarely scoop the Golden Ball as well though it isn’t totally unheard of that the player to score the most goals is also named the player of the tournament. Salvatore Schillaci (1990), Paolo Rossi (1982), Mario Kempes (1978), Garrincha (1962) and Leonidas (1938) were all winners of both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball so with that in mind it’s worth picking out a player who is likely to find the net in the tournament. In fact, just twice in World Cup history has a Golden Ball winner failed to score in the tournament (Oliver Kahn in 2002 and Jose Nasazzi in 1930).
Therefore two potential top scorers in Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain and Fred look good value at a massive 50/1. Both players will lead the line in three pronged attacks for their country and will being supplied by the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Hulk and Sergio Aguero and so they are sure to have plenty of chances to find the net.
Both boast superb goalscoring records for their countries as well with Higuain having netted 21 in 36 matches will Fred – who top scored at last year’s Confederations Cup – has 16 in 31 for Brazil.
Elsewhere, Spain’s David Silva looks worth a small gamble at a huge price 66/1 after a superb season for Manchester City. Silva was included in the UEFA player of the tournament for Euro 2012 and also helped himself to a couple of goals. While four years ago in South Africa, he picked up the bronze Golden Ball award and wasn’t far off from scooping the Golden Boot award as he finished second behind Thomas Muller by virtue of having picked up fewer assists.
Tom’s verdict on the other main contenders…
Neymar (8/1): Goes into the tournament off a poor season for Barcelona and with a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders. Looks too short a price at 8/1.
Lionel Messi (10/1): Has never really produced the goods on the big stage for his country and has had an injury hit season so could be worth avoiding.
Cristiano Ronaldo (16/1): I’m not convinced Portugal will go far in this tournament and Golden Ball winners generally go to sides that get at least to the last four.
Franck Ribery (25/1): France are another side who aren’t expected to get as far as the semi-finals so it’d be hard to see Ribery scooping the award.