Winning the World Cup final is the ultimate feat for any professional footballer, but close behind that, for forwards at least, is claiming the fabled Golden Boot.
Somewhat remarkably, the trophy for the tournament's top scorer has only been claimed by a World Cup winner on four occasions, the most recent of which saw Ronaldo bag eight goals for champions Brazil in Japan and South Korea in 2002.
But on Sunday night, there could be a fifth name added to that list.
Colombia superstar James Rodriguez currently leads the goalscoring charts with six strikes despite going out at the quarter-finals, and Germany’s Thomas Mueller is his nearest challenger with five goals.
However, Mueller has three assists to Rodriguez’s two – meaning that if he can draw level with the Colombian with one more goal then he will take the Golden Boot outright by virtue of FIFA’s tie-breaker.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 9, 2014
The Bayern Munich star is no stranger to this method having also won the Golden Boot at the 2010 tournament in South Africa, with his superior number of assists putting him just ahead of David Villa and Wesley Sneijder.
Lionel Messi is a goal further back on four, but given he has only one assist, he would need to reach seven goals outright to usurp Rodriguez, or score twice and get two assists, which seems rather unlikely.
Thomas Mueller shows off his Golden Boot trophy in 2010
There is a chance Messi could draw level with Rodriguez on a total of six goals and two assists. If this happens then the Colombia will take the prestigious award by virtue of having played fewer minutes.
The fact Rodriguez has set the benchmark with six goals is no surprise – that tally is the most frequent among Golden Boot winners and has been the winning total in six of the past nine competitions.
FULL LIST OF GOLDEN BOOT WINNERS
2010: Thomas Mueller (Germany ) 5 Goals
2006: Miroslav Klose (Germany) 5 Goals
2002: Ronaldo (Brazil) 8 Goals
1998: Davor Suker (Croatia) 6 Goals
1994: Histro Stoichkov (Bulgaria), Oleg Salenko (Russia) 6 Goals
1990: Salvatore Schillachi (Italy) 6 Goals
1986: Gary Lineker (England) 6 Goals
1982: Paolo Rossi (Italy) 6 Goals
1978: Mario Kempes (Argentina) 6 Goals
1974: Gregorz Lato (Poland) 7 Goals
1970: Gerd Mueller (Germany) 10 Goals
1966: Eusebio (Portugal) 9 Goals
1962: Florian Albert (Hungary), Valentin Ivanov (Soviet Union), Drazen Jerkovic (Yugoslavia), Leonel Sanchez (Chile), Vava (Brazil), Garrincha (Brazil) All 4 Goals
1958: Just Fontaine (France) 13 Goals
1954: Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) 11 Goals
1950: Ademir (Brazil) 9 Goals
1938: Leonidas (Brazil) 8 Goals
1934: Oldrich Nejedly (Czechoslovakia), Edmund Conen (Germany), Angelo Schiavio (Italy) All 4 Goals
1930: Guillermo Stabile (Argentina) 8 Goals
The odds reflect that Rodriguez is a heavy favourite. He is currently 1/2 to lift the Golden Boot, with Mueller at 9/5 and Messi at 29/1.
But if Mueller can nick at goal at the Maracana tonight, he will earn the distinction of being the first player to win the Golden Boot twice, and in successive tournaments no less.
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- Thomas Mueller
- James Rodriguez