by Jim Riggio - 03/06/2006
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Many times judging the World Cup can be difficult. There are always certain teams that are favored over others, but many factors can occur before the first whistle is blown in Germany this summer. Often times, betting on the World Cup scoring crown can be just as difficult as picking the winner of the tournament, but a little research can make this task much more manageable. The following will give you some tips on betting the scoring crown, also known as the Golden Boot, at the 2006 World Cup.
For one, many of the top teams and players have gone through long seasons in Europe, which for many includes European Cup play, including the UEFA Champions League, which is clearly the highest brand of soccer in the world. Every year the top club teams in Europe - generally from Italy, England, Spain, Germany, France, Portugal and Holland, battle it out for the Champions League title. Let's not forget the Champions League final, which draws more viewers around the world than the Super Bowl, is in mid-May in Paris, only a few weeks before the start of the World Cup.
Because of this, some teams enter the World Cup tired, but some enter in fine form. Another factor that is difficult to realize is that most of these national teams that play in the World Cup only play together no more than 10-12 times a year. And of those matches, there are always top players missing because they fear risking injury for club matches.
Adjustments definitely are needed as some teams have to play sides more difficult than they have ever faced, and some have to play sides that are weaker than those that they usually face. But if there is one thing that everyone will have to get used to, it's having the whole world watch.
The World Cup will see many new first-time faces. Some will be ready, others will not. Ironically, I see a few World Cup veterans as being the favorites to lead the tournament in scoring goals.
Although he is now in his mid-30s, Henrik Larsson of Sweden is one of my favorites to capture the scoring crown. Larsson, who plays with Barcelona, has had a solid career and will get a chance to play alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the most physically feared forward in the world. Ibrahimovic loves to dish out assists and often draws double and triple teams, leaving his strike partner alone. At the club level, with Juventus of Turin (Italy), France's David Trezeguet is the benefactor of Ibrahimovic's assists. Larsson will get that honor in Germany. One won't need to shed any tears for Trezeguet, because in Germany he will have a strike partner in Arsenal's Thierry Henry, who will do exactly for him with the French team that Ibrahimovic does for him with Juventus.
Because he's younger and in better health, Trezeguet is the best bet to capture the scoring crown. I would give Larsson a chance of being near the top. Ibrahimovic and Henry should also be near the top along with Brazil's Adriano. Adriano sometimes gets lost in the action if he doesn't have the support of his team. But he is a player that is extremely talented and can score two or three when he is not even having his best game.
Another player who could be a big scorer is the Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko, who should benefit from playing in a group against Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Remember, Germany beat Saudi Arabia, 8-0 in the last World Cup.
If there is a player who I wouldn't expect much from is Spain's Raul, who has been injured much of this season, and is no longer his country's best goal scorer as Fernando Torres has taken the torch from him.
There are some great goal scorers who I won't put among the favorites to lead the World Cup in scoring because they play in the tough groups. These players include Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Netherlands, Hernan Crespo of Argentina, Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast, Jan Koller of the Czech Republic and Italy's Luca Toni.