World Cup Golden Boot Betting Preview
The festival of goal scoring in Brazil is long gone ̶ the final four teams scored a total of four goals in their quarter-final matchups. Excluding extra-time, the average number of goals per game has dropped from 2.83 in the group stages to 1.37 in the knockout rounds.
The sudden drop in scoring is no accident ̶ Forbes analysis pointed out that counter-attacking rules this World Cup. The Netherlands and Colombia both average less than 47% possession, while leading the tournament in scoring at 3 and 2.8 goals per game. However when two compact counterattacking sides meet there are fewer mistakes and opportunities and, subsequently, a dearth of goals.
This strangulation of scoring has created value in the betting market. If the trend continues, James Rodriguez and his six goals should be a much shorter favourite than the current 8/11 (Bwin) to scoop the Golden Boot.
Lionel Messi (4/1 - Bet365). Four goals. The little maestro has failed to score in both knockout rounds so far, as opponents have focused their defensive energies on him.
Indeed the Argentine squad seem happy to stay compact and squeak out victories, prompting criticism from the Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal: "Argentina just slammed on the brakes against Belgium. They are excellent with strong individuals like Messi. But they don’t always attack.”
Oddsmakers have made the UNDER 2.5 goals a 1/2 proposition for the Holland/ Argentina semi final, suggesting goals will be at a premium, even for the best in the business.
Thomas Muller (5/1 - YouWin) - Four goals- Muller has cooled since an opening game hat-trick and could face further frustration against Brazil.
Without Neymar, the Seleção look certain to favour the aforementioned counter-attacking style. As Germany's star man, Muller could also be subject to a barrage of fouls from the Brazilians, who were penalised 31 times in their quarter-final.
In the event of a tie, bets are paid at the normal winning payout, divided by the number of selections that have tied. I.e. If you bet on Rodriguez to win and Messi also ends up with six goals, you will be paid out at 4/11.
That means it takes three goals from Messi or Muller for Rodriguez to lose outright. With a depressed rate of scoring powered by cautious managers and risk-averse players, three more goals from any player in two games looks wildly unlikely.