The Barcelona man is favourite to finish as top scorer at the World Cup, but Al Hain-Cole thinks his team-mate could be the man to take advantage of Argentina’s favourable group
With the draw for the World Cup 2014 now complete, defenders throughout the globe can begin losing sleep over the very real prospect of facing some of the sport’s most lethal marksmen in Brazil next summer.
Nobody terrifies opposition backlines like Lionel Messi, who is currently BetVictor’s 8/1 (9.00) favourite to scoop the Golden Boot thanks largely to a favourable draw pitting Argentina against Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria, with Switzerland or Ecuador likely opponents in the last 16.
However, while the Barcelona man hit an impressive 10 goals in 12 games during South American qualifying, that price seems a little short considering he failed to find the net at all in five games during the last World Cup.
On the other hand, team-mate Gonzalo Higuain struck four times at South Africa 2010 and his recent record of seven goals in his last 10 international games suggests odds of 25/1 (26.00) are well worth a look on him finishing top of the goal-scoring charts, particularly after nine in 11 on the road to Brazil.
Each way terms mean punters opting for that approach will get a quarter of the price if their selection finishes in the top four, which makes the industry best 25/1 (26.00) even more tempting.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo has matched Messi’ prolific exploits in recent seasons, but with more daunting opponents of the USA, Ghana and Germany to contend with, his price of 14/1 (15.00) holds less appeal as a member of an inconsistent Portugal team.
Having hit 27 goals in just 46 games already for Brazil at the age of just 21, Neymar represents the host nation’s talisman as they attempt to lift the trophy on home soil, and you can get odds of 14/1 (15.00) on him out-scoring all the rest.
While England fans will be hoping Luis Suarez leaves his shooting boots at home next summer, the current Premier League top scorer is among the front runners at 16/1 (17.00) to lift the Golden Boot after leading the South American scoring charts with 11 goals in 14 qualifiers.
Europe’s top marksman was Premier League rival Robin van Persie, whose 11 goals in just nine qualifiers makes him a contender at 25/1 (26.00) to finish top of the pile in Brazil, although Spain, Chile and Australia stand in his way at the group stages.
That same 25/1 (26.00) price is also on offer for Radamel Falcao, Alvaro Negredo or Mario Balotelli to demonstrate their undoubted class on the biggest stage, while Sergio Aguero is currently slightly more highly rated at 20/1 (21.00).
Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson will be praying for Wayne Rooney to hit the ground running, although at 40/1 (41.00) the Manchester United man is a clear outsider.
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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.