Even though England were knocked out of the World Cup in the semi-finals, Harry Kane ended up taking the golden boot trophy “back home” with him. While it was the Englishman who won the coveted award, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe took France to World Cup glory for a second time in history.
Harry Kane - The English Goalbaaz
Despite scoring more than 20 league goals in every season over the past four years, there were still some who were uncertain about the Englishman’s quality at the highest level. And Kane responded to his critics in the best possible manner by scoring six goals in six matches - a feat that earned him the Golden Boot. He began the tournament with two goals from his England’s first game against Tunisia which included a header in the final minutes like a poker player who exhibits his authority at the table even before the game has properly started. He followed that up with a hat-trick in the very next match against Panama.
Kane’s form, however, dipped in the knockout stages as he was able to score just one goal in matches against Colombia, Sweden, and Croatia. It was all down to Kane that the English fans, who had endured nothing but misery for more than a decade, began to dream again and even though it “didn’t come home” at the end, the team was welcomed back with open arms - which is something new in English sports.
Cristiano Ronaldo - The biggest Goalbaaz
Cristiano Ronaldo came into, what could very possibly be his last, World Cup in the form of his life having won his third straight Champions League. Coming in as the European Champions, Portugal were handed a tough group with Spain, Iran, and Morocco with their European neighbours being their first opponents. Like a star poker player who keeps his best hand as the last move, Ronaldo saved his best for the biggest stage and after scoring two goals in regulation time, produced a consummate free-kick to seal his hat-trick in the 95th minute, to rescue a draw for his side.
He scored in the next match as well but that was when the goals dried up and Portugal were knocked out of the tournament in the Round of 16 by Uruguay. Even though, he has played the lowest number of minutes by anyone on this list, he still manages to compete with the rest of the field as far as individual accolades are concerned - which is a true testament to his greatness.
Antoine Griezmann - The Dancing Goalbaaz
Probably one of the best players at the Russian showpiece, Antoine Griezmann, was a shining light in the French national team as they won the World Cup for the second time in their history after 1998’s memorable triumph. In the seven games that he played, Griezmann scored four goals while he also providing two assists. After scoring only one goal, against Australia, in the group stages, the Frenchman saved his best for the knockout round when it mattered the most.
His second goal in the event came as the first goal of the match against Argentina - a game that finished 4-3. In the quarters, he sealed a place in the semis with a second goal against a fighting Uruguay side which included the likes of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. However, his most memorable one would have to be the penalty in the final which put France 2-1 ahead - a lead they would not surrender.
Kylian Mbappe - The Young Goalbaaz
It’s hard to fathom that Kylian Mbappe is still 19-year-old after the French youngster became the second teenager after the great Pele to score in a World Cup final. Like a new but talented poker player who takes time to learn his trade, Mbappe also showed flashes of his brilliance scoring just one goal in the group stages. He had become crafty by the time his team reached the knockout stage as the PSG laid his stamp on the World Cup by scoring a brace and almost single-handedly beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the round of 16. Mbappe’s blistering run to score the goal against Argentina will be remembered for a long time in the minds of French supporters.
Mbappe ended up notching four goals from seven games including the last one of France’s four goals in the final against Croatia. After lifting the World Cup, the teenager was also adjudged the best young player of the tournament - the easiest decision that anyone voting in Russia has ever had to make.
Romelu Lukaku - The Early Goalbaaz
Romelu Lukaku came into the World Cup with a Belgian team that appeared to have finally shrugged off the Dark Horses tag and ready to stake their claim as one of the favorites. Leading the line for Roberto Martinez, Lukaku was surrounded by a host of creators that would make anyone striker in the world jealous. He started off with a brace apiece against Panama and Tunisia in the opening matches but unlike his French counterparts failed to recreate the magic in the knockout games.
He had one final shot to lay claim to the Golden Boot as he went head to head against Kane in their final match, the Third place playoff, but he failed to add more of them. But with the Belgium team finally showing some potential that they had been promising, it would appear that this team is here to stay and Lukaku still has a lot more to offer going forward.
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