Ousted Colombian James Rodriguez is 3/4 favourite to end the World Cup as the tournament’s top scorer despite being ousted in the quarter-finals along with the injured Neymar.
Thomas Muller and Lionel Messi, two strikes behind the baby-faced Monaco man-child, will both harbour hopes of trampling him into the dust on a stampede to ultimate triumph with their nations.
However, the German and Argentine goalhounds, 3/1 and 4/1 to land the Golden Boot respectively, would be better served by losing their semi-finals if they wish to obtain the medal for marksmanship.
In the six World Cups from 1990 onwards, just one player – Ronaldo in 2002 – outright top-scored in the tournament having reached the final.
Surprisingly three players who played their final outing in the third/fourth-place play-off claimed sole ownership of the top scorer’s trophy, Toto Schillachi in Italy, Davor Suker in France and Miroslav Klose on home soil in 2006.
Of the two tournaments that saw the gong shared during our period of examination, USA 1994 and South Africa 2010, three of the six men to do so participated in the bronze-medal match.
Only two, David Villa and Wesley Sneijder (both in South Africa) reached the final, with the other Oleg Salenko doing so by virtue of a freak six-strike group-stage haul in America.
Needless to say the relative tensions of the fixtures means the duel for minor honours is usually a far looser game, providing 23 goals to the final’s nine during the period in question.
Only on one occasion since 1990 has the tussle for third failed to turn up more goals than the final, putting any would-be James disappointer pushed out the side door at the semi-final stage a fair advantage.
Argentina and Germany are both favourites for their last-four clashes at 29/20 and 17/10 respectively to beat the Netherlands and France.