My World Cup preview series concludes just days before the big kick off on Thursday with a rundown of some of the top strikers on offer at the tournament.
In keeping with the previous articles there is a heavy emphasis on teams that are expected to win at least two of their group stage games as the Daily Strikers format rewards a further two points per player for ending a match on the winning side.
Let’s begin with my ultimate tip for the tournament in general…
Stepping out of Messi’s shadow by moving from Barcelona to Paris SG is just what the Brazilian attacker needed in his career to establish himself as one of the best players in the world. Having had his tournament cut short in 2014 due to back injury the 26 year old will be raring to make amends in Russia.
To say his record is remarkable would be an understatement as Neymar scored 28 goals in 30 matches for his club this season and has a total of 55 in 85 matches for his country.
Despite a rocky road in their early qualifying stages, things all came together late of for Brazil and they go into the tournament as favourites. There are some doubts over their chances as from the five times they have lifted the trophy only once has it been in Europe but they will be a force regardless.
Brazil should comfortably get through the group stage against opponents of Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia with Neymar getting on the scoresheet on more than one occasion.
Thomas Müller (Germany)
Whilst Brazil are favourites for the Jules Rimet, Germany are not far behind them in the betting odds and for good reason. This group of players have been a force at international level for the last decade and were finally rewarded at the last World Cup in 2014.
Pivotal to all of their attacking play is Thomas Müller. Not a typical type of striker Müller has been defying odds and records and could easily once again be up there in the golden boot stakes as he was in 2010.
The 28 year old has impressive record on international duty with 38 goals in 91 matches but the real credit should probably go to the rest of his team as whole. The Germans are an organised machine at both end of the pitch and clinical when it comes to finishing off teams.
Mexico, Sweden and South Korea should pose minimal threat to Low’s men in the group stages meaning that they should be comfortable winners seeing Müller and co progress to the later stages with ease.
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
Uruguay seem to be heavily fancied as outsiders to reach the latter stages this tournament and I think for good reason. The South Americans have a team of well-established world class players in their lineup that could pose a threat to any team on their day.
Luis Suarez is of course the main man for them but alongside him up top is Edinson Cavani.
The second PSG attacker in my list and a player I am expecting to see big things from and for good reason following his 40 goals in 48 matches for his club this season. The striker also outscored team mate Suarez in qualifying too by 10 goals to 5 so has the edge here too.
Uruguay do not have the most straight forward of groups as there is no hot favourites amongst them, Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia but this may give them more aspirations that they could go further in the tournament.
At 31 years of age, this could be the final tournament for Cavani and one last opportunity to shine on the biggest stage.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Personally I am not the biggest fan of the big Belgian striker and especially at international level where his country rarely live up to their expectations, but fixtures alone have led me to include Lukaku in this list.
Belgium have an excellent opportunity make a real statement of intent in their opening matchup against minnows Panama. Roberto Martinez could be looking at a win by 3 or 4 goals in this one and Lukaku could be well amongst the points.
With 34 goals in 68 international appearances, Lukaku is not quite as prolific as some of the others on this list but is impressive all the same.
Following their plum tie with Panama they follow it up with another kind fixture in Tunisia before facing England in the last match of the round. There is every possibility that when these two eventually meet they could both already be through to the knockouts on 6 points.
Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
When a player has scored 41 goals in 48 games for a top side like Bayern Munich this season it’s hard to understand why Lewandowski wouldn’t be at the top of every fantasy player’s wanted list.
Unfortunately for the striker though it’s the team around him that may let him down. While there is some top quality amongst the Polish ranks it’s unlikely they will perform to the level worthy of justifying the potential of their main man.
With matches vs Columbia, Japan and Senegal though there is every chance that Poland will make it out of the group stage and into the knockout stages. If you think they will get through and Lewandowski could potentially see up to 4 or 5 matches in the tournament then I strongly urge you to consider including him in your teams as he is the type of world class player who can score from anything.