Now that the tournament in Qatar has finally started and the ball is rolling, you realize how many great players will ultimately miss the tournament.
This becomes especially clear when you take a look at the Ballon d’Or list. Award-winning Karim Benzema is missing, as is second-placed Sadio Mané, who was also honored as Africa’s best player this year. Both suffered serious injuries shortly before the start of the tournament
With Mohamed Salah and Erling Haaland, two more players from the top 10 are missing – but only because their countries didn’t qualify
Many injured Top players
The injury plight, however, is evident in many countries. World champions France, for example, are missing not only Benzema but also Nkunku, who’s in particularly good form, as well as several important players such as Pogba, Kanté, and Kimpembe. Left-back Lucas Hernandez injured himself in the first match and will be out for the rest of the World Cup
Other stars who won’t play in this World Cup: Timo Werner, Marco Reus, Florian Wirtz (all Germany), Diogo Jota (Portugal), Reece James, Ben Chilwell (England) or Coutinho (Brazil).
Who wins the Golden Boot?
With the loss of these stars, the odds on the best player for underdog betting have become interesting. Of course, there are still stars like Harry Kane, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar – but here we’ve some interesting high-priced outsiders for you
Jude Bellingham (England) @29.00
He’s only 19 years old and already leading the England national team
Bernardo Silva (Portugal) @41.00
Portugal has an even more golden generation than ever before and Bernardo Silva can make Portugal forget about CR7
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) @51.00
Belgium is riding high – but needs Lukaku’s goals to win. And with plenty of goals, he’s a strong contender for the Golden Boot
Jamal Musiala (Germany) @67.00
Same age as Bellingham and the most efficient player in the Bundesliga. Some see him as a future Ballon D’Or winner. Internationally he’s still underestimated.
(Odds taken from Bet365)
Even as a child, I used to bet on the results of the Bundesliga with my friends at school. Back then, the stakes were still modest: Lunch, a few marbles or maybe even a milk jug. When I was 9 years old, I once played the German "Elferwette" (1x2 tips in 11 German games) - and got 10 right the first time.
Latest posts by Max Stargard (see all)
By Max Stargard
Even as a child, I started typing the results of the Bundesliga with my friends at school. The stakes were modest back then: The lunch, a few marbles or maybe a milk slice. Then, at the age of 9, I played the penalty bet once - and immediately got 10 right. The previous week I had won 500 DM and in my childish imagination I was already imagining how many football pictures I could buy at the kiosk on the corner. Unfortunately, it was one of those match days when everything turned out as expected and I only won DM 8.10. Nevertheless, I followed the game with great interest.
Nevertheless, the passion to correctly predict the outcome of sporting events haunted me for the rest of my life. I would have loved to own the sports almanac that Marty McFly bought in Back to the Future II.
Much later, when I was already working as a journalist for newspapers and as a writer for television, I came across an international betting forum with over 100,000 members - and found out that a lot of people there were giving their tips on German football, but nobody seemed to have a real clue, so I wrote a few English-language preliminary reports with a few tips - and was right about everything. After that, an avalanche started. I got offers from bookmakers, sports papers and even betting syndicates to work for them - and I accepted a few of them too, experiencing the ups & downs of sports betting and travelling halfway around the world in the years that followed. There I met Chinese multimillionaires betting five to six figures, amateur players in Serbia or Turkey supporting their families with small stakes, South Africans gambling away half their fortune, Brazilians who could only leave their favelha and become rich by making the right tips. At one point my life was similar to Matthew McCaughaney's in the film Two For The Money - and far too much stress.
I subsequently moved to another continent and ran an English-language football epaper about the Bundesliga from there. After the birth of my son, I devoted myself for many years only to artistic projects in the field of photography and literature. However, I am happy to share my knowledge and passion with the readers of bettingtipsafrica.
View all of Max Stargard's posts.