Forget Muller and Messi, Benzema's the man to back for the Golden Boot

Karim Benzema France

France's Karim Benzema has experienced a fantastic start to the World Cup. Here's why he is the real favourite to finish the tournament as top scorer.

Didier Deschamps couldn’t have asked for a better start to his side’s South American experience. The French have burst onto the World Cup scene, establishing themselves as early favourites, alongside others, for a tournament victory.

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has been imperative to the Blues’ fantastic start, shouldering his side’s attacking attacking burden to fantastic effect. Having featured in the hard fought win over Honduras and the more recent defeat of Switzerland, he has scored three goals in total; establishing himself as the joint leader in the race for the prestigious Golden Boot accolade.

  TeamPosGoalsAppsMins
Karim Benzema France FW 3 2 180
Thomas Müller Germany FW 3 2 172
Arjen Robben Netherlands MF 3 2 180
Enner Valencia Ecuador FW 3 2 180
Robin van Persie Netherlands FW 3 2 166

After a tremendous start, Benzema will be eager to net in France’s final group match against Ecuador in order to cement himself in pole position in the race for goals.

He is currently joined by Germany’s Thomas Muller, Colombia’s Enner Valencia and Netherland’s duo Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie, all of whom have scored on three occasions. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and several others trail closely behind with two goals apiece.

Nonetheless, at present the odds are stacked in the Frenchman’s favour.

Les Blues fans would argue that he should already be on six. It seems a very long time ago now, but in his side’s opening match he thought he had scored, what would have been a second (denying him a hat-trick at full-time), only for his second half strike to be ruled as an own goal.

He then buried an outstanding strike in the dying moments of the Switzerland match, yet, to his disdain, the referee had already blown for the final whistle. It’s also easy to forget that he missed a penalty in this match; on any other day he could have had a hat-trick (or a second hat-trick, perhaps). At this stage, the luck is seemingly against him. Regardless, he continues to find the back of the net.

  TeamPosGoal AssistAppsMins
Karim Benzema France FW 2 2 180
Thomas Müller Germany FW 1 2 172
Arjen Robben Netherlands MF 0 2 180
Enner Valencia Ecuador FW 0 2 180
Robin van Persie Netherlands FW 0 2 166
André Ayew Ghana MF 0 2 180
Tim Cahill Australia FW 0 2 158
Gervinho Côte d'Ivoire FW 0 2 180
Mario Mandzukic Croatia FW 0 1 90
Lionel Messi Argentina FW 0 2 180

France’s high scoring games have seen Benzema provide a number of assists; a factor that could prove vital if he is tied for goals come the end of the competition. Currently he has set-up two goals, one more than his closest challenger Thomas Muller.

The 26-year-old has proven his adaptability throughout his time in Brazil, displaying his ability to score in both a central and a wide role. Against the Swiss he was deployed on the left hand side of a three man attack, and still he has produced the goods.

  TeamPosmins / GoalsShot Acc (%)Total AttemptsGoals OpenplayBig Chance MissedAppsMins
Karim Benzema France FW 60.00 53.33 15 1 3 2 180
Thomas Müller Germany FW 57.33 60.00 5 2 1 2 172
Arjen Robben Netherlands MF 60.00 85.71 7 3 0 2 180
Enner Valencia Ecuador FW 60.00 66.67 6 1 1 2 180
Robin van Persie Netherlands FW 55.33 75.00 8 3 0 2 166

The statistics show that Benzema has hit the target from just over half of his attempts at goal. Yet he has proven less accurate than the players who join him on three goals. He has also missed a greater number of ‘big’ chances.

Whilst these figures would usually be given as evidence against an early claim for the Golden Boot, as mentioned earlier, he hasn’t experienced the best of luck during his time in Brazil.

Whilst it is fair to accuse him of being wasteful in front of goal, he is responsible for creating a far greater number of scoring opportunities, compared to his opponents, and this is surely a major sign of things to come.

Just two games into the tournament, naturally it’s difficult to pick a distinct favourite for the title of top scorer. However, France’s almost assured qualification from the group stage, plus their projected run in the knock-out phase will fill those who have backed Benzema with hope.

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