If you focus on the big names, you’ll find many well known strikers aren’t striking. SoccerNet’s Richard Jolly recently wrote about the dearth of scoring from many well known forwards and wondered if this might be an epidemic.
It was not supposed to be like this. A global concentration of talent, an open and entertaining World Cup without the sudden collapse of supposed favourites; all the factors point to a fierce contest for the Golden Boot, sharpshooters striking fear into even the finest goalkeepers.
But, while there is still plenty of football to be played, the combined tally of Michael Owen, David Trezeguet, Andriy Shevchenko, Francesco Totti, Luca Toni, Lukas Podolski, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Raul and Ronaldo stands at, well, zero. Ruud van Nistelrooy, criticised for his slow start, appears almost prolific with one, a total he shares the otherwise anonymous Pauleta.
One of the key things to remember, which Jolly points out, is many of these big names are coming off recent injuries. While it seemed like midfielders were scoring a lot, a new wave of strikers seem to have stepped up in the first round. Looking at the latest stats (as of June 21st), the strikers lead the way as Klose (GER) has 4 and Torres (ESP) has 3. A number of players have scored two each and here the strikers still come out on top, but they are not alone. Six strikers have scored 2 goals (Crespo-ARG, Delgado-ECU, Tenorio-ECU, Villa-ESP, Bravo-MEX, Wanchope-CRC) but so have 4 midfielders (Cahill-AUS, Rodrigeuz-ARG, Rosicky-CZE, Gerrard-ENG) and one defender (Bosacki – POL).
What do you think? Are we seeing a new crop of strikers rise to the challenge or are midfielders stepping into the void, launching rockets from 30 yds out? We’ve seen some beautiful arcing shots of late. Or will the big names surge in the knockout rounds? Putting it all together, who do you think grabs the Golden Boot? Current odds favor Crespo according to Jolly, but it’s still early!