Goals decide football and when it comes to the biggest competition in FIFA’s game, goal scorers usually sway victory to their teams. Safe for 2006 when Italy relied on the meanness of its defenders to win the trophy in Germany, the world has been served so many prolific strikers, whose goals helped their teams to the World Cup trophy.
According to FIFA, over 2,300 goals have been scored at the 20 editions of the World Cup final tournaments, excluding penalties converted during shoot-outs. Since the first goal scored by French player Lucien Laurent at the 1930 FIFA World Cup, over 1,200 footballers have scored goals at the World Cup but only 90 of them have scored at least five goals.
The top goalador of the inaugural competition was Argentina’s Guillermo Stábile with eight goals. “Since then, only 22 players have scored more goals at all the games played at the World Cup as Stábile did throughout the 1930 tournament. The first was Hungary’s Sándor Kocsis with 11 goals scored in 1954. At the next tournament, France’s Just Fontaine improved on this record with 13 goals in only six games. Gerd Müller scored 10 goals for West Germany in 1970, and broke the overall record when he scored his 14th goal at the World Cup during West Germany’s win at the 1974 final.
Muller’s record lasted for more than three decades until the original Ronaldo (Brazil) scored 15 goals between 1998 and 2006. That record was bettered by Germany’s Miroslav Klose, who scored 16 goals in four consecutive tournaments between 2002 and 2014. Pelé with 12 between 1958 and 1970, and Jürgen Klinsmann with 11 between 1990 and 1998 are the only two players to have scored more than 10 goals.
“Of the 90 players who have scored at least five goals, only five of them have scored, on average, at least two goals per game played: Kocsis, Fontaine, Stábile, Oleg Salenko, and Josef Hügi — while Ernst Wilimowski scored four goals in his single World Cup game in 1938. These top 90 goal scorers represented 30 different nations, with 13 players scoring for Brazil, and another 14 for Germany or West Germany.
“In total, 60 footballers are from UEFA (Europe), 26 from CONMEBOL (South America), and only 4 players from elsewhere: Cameroon, Ghana, Australia, and the United States.Fontaine holds the record for the most goals scored at a single tournament, with 13 goals in 1958. The players that came closest to this record were Kocsis in 1954, Müller in 1970 and Portugal’s Eusébio in 1966, with 11, 10 and nine goals, respectively.”
According to FIFA, the lowest scoring tournament’s top goal scorer was in 1962, when six players scored only four goals each. “A total of 29 different footballers have been credited with the most goals at a World Cup during the 20 editions, and no one has achieved this feat twice. Nine of them scored at least seven goals in a tournament, while Jairzinho became in 1970 the only footballer to score seven goals without being the top goal scorer that year.”
Miroslov Klose holds the record of most goals in World Cup history having scored 16 in 24 matches. He broke the record in World Cup 2014 previously held by Brazil’s Ronaldo who scored 15 goals in 19 World Cup matches. At Russia 2018, the pundits’ money is on Lionel Messi of Argentina, his archrival, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, England’s Harry Kane, Brazil’s Neymar and France’s youngster, Kylian Mpabbe to be in the running for the golden boot award. Egypt’s Mohammed Salah, who has been phenomenal for Liverpool this season, is the first African to be counted among the possible top scorers in Russia. And then there are France’s Antoine Griezmann and Germany’s Thomas Muller, who won the award in 2010.
Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic, Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho, and Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuian and Paolo Dybala are the likely players to lead the goal scoring efforts of their teams in Group D.
According to sportskeeda’s Omena Osuya, Russia 2018 promises to be one of the better ones as a host of sharpshooters will be leading the line for various nations.He lists Portugal’s Andre Silva, Timo Werner of Germany, Gabriel Jesus of Brazil, France’s Olivier Giroud, Alvaro Morata of Spain, Colombia’s Radamel Falcao, Romelu Lukaku of Belgium, Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani, Harry Kane of England and Roberto Lewandowski of Poland as the other contenders in the race for the top scorer award.Former Super Eagles’ defender, Mike Onyemachara will rather look at the over all team play of the sides and not dwell on strikers because “you need quality team mates to score goals and win matches.”
Onyemachara believes teams like Iceland, Germany, Spain and Portugal, “who don’t depend on the ability of one player to excel’ will have a say on how the competition ends.“Expect new stars and systems to rule the World Cup in Russia. There will be exceptional individuals no doubt, but systems, rather than stars, will be the order in Russia.”