Matt Brocklebank is backing a couple of PSG stars to shine at the World Cup, with two 33/1 Golden Boot bets.
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"Goals fulfil me. They are part of me."
EDINSON CAVANI should end the season feeling extremely satisfied and he looks set to carry that momentum into the World Cup in Russia.
The Paris Saint-Germain and Uruguay striker hasn't quite matched last year's exceptional 49-goal haul, but he's hit that magical 40 figure again for club and country, which puts him right up there alongside the most productive players in world football when it comes to getting the ball over the line.
Cavani has never been the most fashionable front-man, often coming in for criticism over his first touch, or lack thereof, and - believe it or not - the necessity to be gifted numerous chances before he scores.
But goals seem to have followed the combative forward wherever he's played, registering 78 in 104 appearances for Napoli, and now a grand total of 116 from 165 outings for the French champions.
Until he does it in the Premier League or La Liga, perhaps the detractors shall continue to have a voice, though while admitting that the competition in Ligue 1 is clearly not as robust as some of the other major European leagues, Cavani could hardly have done more when it comes to goals-per-game at club level.
And, at 31 years old, the man who moulded his game on that of the great Gabriel Batistuta appears to be just reaching his prime.
Combine that with a fine record in the sky blue of Uruguay and Cavani rates a standout bet at 33/1 (Betfair, 28s generally).
He outscored Lionel Messi (7), Gabriel Jesus (7) and Neymar (6), as well as La Celeste strike partner Luis Suarez (5), with 10 goals during South American qualification and while that was in part owing to the fact he was a near ever-present in the side, he's clearly built up an excellent understanding with the midfield supply-line, which includes Inter's creative spark, Matias Vecino.
Cavani has been involved in the past two World Cups, scoring just the solitary goal at each tournament, losing 3-2 to Germany in the third place play-off in 2010 and crashing out to a James Rodriguez-inspired Colombia in the last-16 four years ago in Brazil.
Uruguay will need to go at least one step further if an improved Cavani is to emerge with most goals in Russia - only one (joint) top scorer has failed to make the quarter-finals since 1962 – but there is plenty of encouragement on that front when it comes to their qualification campaign.
Oscar Tabarez’s team finished second to Brazil overall, winning nine of their 18 matches with a goal difference of +12, including victories over Argentina and Paraguay, plus draws with Brazil and Colombia.
That form reads well and the draw could hardly have been kinder for Uruguay, who kick off their Group A matches against Egypt (ranked 46 in the world), before tackling Saudi Arabia (67) and hosts Russia (66).
If Cavani is guilty of praying on easy meat in French football, then he and Suarez could be falling over themselves to get among the goals in this section before the competition hots up in the latter stages.
Marginal preference is for the PSG man, due to the bigger price and a flurry of eight goals in eight games over the past couple of months. With the place terms (1/4 1,2,3, 4) not particularly enticing when it comes to the likelihood of ties (dead-heat rules apply) for second and third, a win bet looks the way to go.
Cavani's prominence has seen club team-mate KYLIAN MBAPPE take something of a back seat towards the end of the domestic season, but it's not hard to envisage the 19-year-old bursting back into the spotlight for France.
Like Cavani, Mbappe isn't even favourite to be top scorer for his nation this summer, but there are reasons to believe he offers considerable value at the same price (General), especially in relation to fellow Frenchman Antoine Griezmann, who is among the Golden Boot favourites at 12s.
On paper, this France team is arguably the best Europe has to offer – from Hugo Lloris in goal through a top-class spine of Raphael Varane, N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Griezmann up front.
If Didier Dechamps can use the disappointment of their Euro 2016 final defeat to help galvanise his squad then they really should go deep into proceedings - they could face Brazil in a mouthwatering semi-final.
Attacking wide-man Mbappe doesn't have the scars of that painful home loss at the hands of Portugal, rather his international tournament experience comes from scoring five times as France won the 2016 Under-19 Championship a couple of years ago.
Winning has become a bit of a habit for the former Monaco forward, after helping PSG to the league and cup double during his first season on loan in the capital, where he could easily have been daunted by following Neymar through the door at the end of last summer's hectic transfer window.
On the contrary, Mbappe has thrived under that pressure and raised expectation, contributing 13 Ligue 1 goals and five more in the Champions League.
He's been brought along steadily on the international stage, featuring a couple of times from the bench last year, while his late goal in the 4-0 win over Holland in August remains his only competitive strike in the senior side, though he added two more to his tally in a friendly victory over Russia in March.
Whereas Cavani is an international stalwart along the lines of so many top scorers in the past, Rodriguez showed four years ago that there is always room for a relatively unexposed sensation to take the World Cup by storm, and the hugely talented Mbappe has an awful lot going for him in that regard.
Posted at 0915 on 03/06/18.
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