World Cup 2014: Updated Schedule and Latest Golden Boot Favorites

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World Cup 2014: Updated Schedule and Latest Golden Boot Favorites
Martin Meissner/Associated Press
Argentina's Lionel Messi is the bookmakers' favourite to win the Golden Boot

With 154 goals scored in the 56 matches played thus far, the 2014 World Cup is on course to be the highest scoring ever, eclipsing the total of 171 goals scored at France 1998.

And the race to claim the Golden Boot at the highest scoring World Cup in history is an accolade that is being keenly contested as we enter the quarter-final stage.

Of the current Top 10 goalscorers, six are still in the competition, with Colombian sensation James Rodriguez top of the pile on five goals, just one ahead of Brazil's Neymar, Germany's Thomas Mueller and Argentina's Lionel Messi, who is the favourite to eventually take the title, per Oddschecker.com.

But it's not all down to individual brilliance, much will also depend on how far each nation progresses. Below we take a look at the leading contenders and their chances of scooping the golden boot.

Bleacher Report

Here is a list of the Top 10 goalscorers at the 2014 World Cup, with the odds for each to win the Golden Boot, via Oddschecker.com

World Cup Goalscorers and Golden Boot Odds
Player Country Goals Odds
James Rodriguez Colombia 5 11/4
Neymar Brazil 4 7/2
Lionel Messi Argentina 4 5/2
Thomas Muller Germany 4 9/2
Karim Benzema France 3 18/1
Enner Valencia Ecuador 3 -
Arjen Robben Netherlands 3 18/1
Robin van Persie Netherlands 3 12/1
Xherdan Shaqiri Switzerland 3 -
Jackson Martinez Colombia 2 100/1

Odds Checker

 

The Young Pretender: James Rodriguez

When Colombia's leading goalscorer in World Cup qualifying, Radamel Falcao, was ruled out of the World Cup through injury, coach Jose Pekerman didn't panic. He moved Monaco winger James Rodriguez into the centre and sat back and watched the goals fly in.

Rodriguez has been one of the revelations of the tournament, his five goals so far have helped Colombia cruise through to the quarter-finals unbeaten and without the need to go through extra time. Unsurprisingly, he has already been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

His two goals against Uruguay in the last-16 tie secured an easy 2-0 win and prompted the opposition coach, Oscar Tabarez, to compare Rodriguez to Diego Maradona in his press conference:

Those who do things which have nothing to do with life experience, Maradona, Messi, Suarez, they do things because they have certain gifts that make them special. He's the best player in the World Cup. I don't think I'm exaggerating.

Rodriguez has the best conversion rate at the World Cup at 62.5 percent, per the Daily Mail, scoring with three out of every 10 shots.

Colombia's quarter-final opponents Brazil have only kept one clean sheet so far so there are goals to be had, but maybe more importantly, the lacklustre World Cup hosts are there for the taking, meaning Rodriguez could also have a semi-final in which to boost his goals tally.

 

The Old Hand: Lionel Messi

Having underperformed in an Argentina shirt for number of years, coach Alejandro Sabella is finally getting best out of Barcelona's four-time World Player of the Year.

The 27-year-old was Argentina's top scorer in qualifying with 10 goals, per FIFA.com, and he has continued his exploits at the finals, scoring winners against Iran and Bosnia and twice in the 3-2 win over Nigeria.

The striker's goalscoring exploits come as no surprise to Sabella, who told a press conference:

Messi's playing an amazing World Cup. I expected it, so did his colleagues and so did all Argentinians in general. So of course we're happy, we're happy for the team and for him as well.

Messi's downfall in terms of the Golden Boot could be his selflessness. He has created 18 chances for his team-mates, and with a supporting cast of Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero, the goals could be spread around the team.

He also leads the World Cup stats in terms of dribbles, with 41, and many of those result in a pass to a colleague. 

Argentina face Belgium in a tricky quarter-final, which could result in an unexpected exit for Messi. His odds of 5-2, per Oddschecker.com, look very stingy.

 

The Fans' Favourite: Neymar

Neymar is a man with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, and the 22-year-old has almost single-handedly carried Brazil's attack at this World Cup.

He has made the second most dribbles at the World Cup, 36, and scored half of his team's eight goals. The Barcelona forward also has a shooting accuracy of 81.9 percent, which is way above the average of his team at 56.8 percent, per the Daily Mail.

Neymar has coped admirably with the pressure, as he proved with his winning penalty in the last-16 shootout against Chile. After which, manager Luiz Felipe Scolari heaped praise on the forward in his press conference:

He is 22 but he plays as if he were 35. He handles the pressure naturally. He is so strong mentally and you could see even when we was 17 or 18 that he was ready.

The problem is that he is the only player in the Brazilian attack who is. Partners Fred and Oscar have been almost invisible at the tournament so far.

Neymar, who has scored 35 goals in 53 appearances for his country, might be let down by his supporting cast and outshone by new kid on the block Rodriguez when Colombia come calling in the quarter-finals.

 

The Flying Dutchman: Robin van Persie

The Netherlands have the best shooting accuracy in the tournament, with 62.7 percent of their efforts hitting the target, per the Daily Mail, and Robin van Persie is at the point of the attack.

Who will win the the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot

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The Manchester United striker opened his account in dramatic style with a flying header in the 5-1 rout of reigning world champions Spain and never looked back in the group stage. Although he did leave the pitch goalless in the last-16 tie against the Mexico.

However, next up it's Costa Rica in what looks like the easiest to call of the quarter-final clashes. Not only will Van Persie have a great chance to score the two goals he needs to catch Rodriguez at the top of the standings, but he should also at least have one more match to boost his tally in the semi-finals.

Van Persie's odds of 12/1 to win the Golden Boot look like great value.

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