Make a move for Immobile

Our David John thinks Italian striker Ciro Immobile can make an impact in the World Cup top goalscorer market.

Last Updated: 11/06/14 at 21:22 Post Comment

Ciro Immobile: Good value in the World Cup top scorer market

Ciro Immobile: Good value in the World Cup top scorer market

Our David John thinks Italian striker Ciro Immobile can make an impact in the World Cup top goalscorer market.

I am finding it hard to make a definitively strong case for any of the market leaders in this year's top goalscorer betting at the World Cup - ensure you make that distinction with your wagers rather than FIFA's ridiculous Golden Boot rules which will find a single winner based on assists if they have to - so my inclination is to take a different route and side with some less obvious picks.

Before we scan through the obvious names at the head of the market, my first selection is the rapidly improving Italian Ciro Immobile, who finished up as the top scorer in Serie A this past season with 22 goals.

He saw off all the glitterati in the section for less-fashionable Torino and his reward has been a big-money deal to join Borussia Dortmund in Germany and take the place of Robert Lewandowski.

Immobile's rise towards the top ranks has been solid and steady. He previously topped the scoring charts in Serie B for Pescara and national coach Cesare Prandelli admitted that 10 months ago he would not have been anywhere on his World Cup radar.

But front men thrive on confidence, along with the knowledge they are loved and appreciated, so Immobile's self-esteem should be through the roof currently not only judged by his form on the field but the fact that Dortmund were so steadfast in their pursuit of him.

"We were prepared to do anything to bring Ciro here," said boss Jurgen Klopp, as the Germans stumped up in the region of 19million euros for his services over the next five years.

Immobile starts the tournament considerably overlooked, bearing in mind as well that he is set to partner the headline-stealing maverick that is Mario Balotelli.

The latter has endured another modest season with AC Milan yet Prandelli seems to be able to get the best out of him for the Azzurri. But that does not mean there is not room for someone like Immobile to shine in his side with all the pressure and focus pointed towards his strike partner.

He showed as much in Sunday's friendly outing against Fluminese when he scored a hat-trick which in some ways is a shame as he's no longer coming in under the radar.

Comparisons have already been made between the 24-year-old and 1990 Italian goal-scoring hero Toto Schillaci. Both hail from the south of Italy and Immobile similarly emerges onto the biggest stage with plenty still to prove.

But the selection, who has been described as versatile and dynamic and someone who knows how to score in may different ways, has a real touch of class to his game and admits he is "super-motivated" - that makes him of real interest to me among the 2014 marksmen.

Looking at the bigger picture, we know Italy are pitted against England along with Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D but I like the chances of Immobile and his side to make a decent fist of things in the event.

I would not be shocked to see them at least reach the last eight and the obvious added game-time means increased opportunities for Immobile to add to his tally.

It is unsurprising to see Lionel Messi chalked up as the jolly and as he turns 27 during the tournament, he should be at the peak of his powers. Despite a pretty healthy goals-to-appearances ratio internationally, Messi has never really matched his stratospheric efforts for Barcelona as the comparisons with Diego Maradona still weigh heavily on his shoulders.

That pressure seems insignificant compared to the hopes of a nation carried by Brazilian talisman Neymar. I am prepared to forgive him a pretty low-key first season in La Liga but the scrutiny on him to deliver from 200million citizens will be beyond intense for a player of 22 who knows only lifting the trophy will suffice.

A World Cup win for Cristiano Ronaldo would be the icing on the cake in a stellar career but you still get the impression he is going to have to do it on his own for Portugal in the most part and an injury in the build-up does set alarm bells ringing a little.

Luis Suarez has had a knee operation since the end of the Premier League season and that is enough to put me off, Spain's Diego Costa scraped into the final 23-man squad and his fitness is an even bigger concern, while the deadly Sergio Aguero has also been hit-and-miss over the last few months with various niggling ailments.

So my two other outright picks hail from South America and are Chile's Alexis Sanchez and Colombia's Carlos Bacca.

Bacca has been brought along slowly by the Colombian coaching staff and his chance may well have arrived as the injured Radamel Falcao finally raised the white flag with a knee injury that has affected him since January.

He also enjoyed an excellent domestic campaign for Sevilla with 14 goals and helped his side strike gold in the Europa League when they beat Benfica on penalties in the final.

His form has caught the eye of both Barcelona and La Liga champions Atletico Madrid so who knows just how his career will lift off if he is able to make the expected impact in Brazil.

That sort of discussion is for another occasion and similarly to the Immobile-Balotelli situation, Bacca could benefit from the focus being aimed towards the more established Jackson Martinez.

"I am available to do whatever (Jose Pekerman, coach) needs from me. I believe Colombia can do very well in the World Cup," he said in a recent interview and I am tempted by his three-figure odds with Los Cafeteros having the potential to move well into the knockout phase.

Messi rules the roost the Nou Camp but Sanchez has enjoyed another splendid domestic season and is the undoubted star attraction when he pulls on the international jersey.

He scored 19 times for Barcelona in 34 league appearances and that was enough for him to alert Juventus in terms of potentially securing his services for next season. That said, Barca rate him extremely highly and remain keen not to sell despite their usual plethora of options up front.

Sanchez has been in sparkling form in two warm-up wins for Chile having set up all five goals in victories over Northern Ireland and Egypt but is just as happy playing in a more central role with 22 international goals to his name.

For those looking at something a little less speculative, then I do like Asamoah Gyan to finish as top scorer for Ghana.

He will be remembered for a dramatic late miss from the spot against Uruguay at the finals in 2010 and the subsequent defeat on penalties thwarted a history-making appearance for the Black Stars in the last four of the tournament.

He earned a move to Sunderland which did not work out and has been playing his football in the Middle East where he has thrived and comfortably proved he could ply his trade at a much better level.

He fell out with the national team too but is very much back in the fold now as captain and at 28 offers a heady mix of both skill and experience at this level.

Will he feel he has a point to prove after the disappointment in South Africa? Maybe. Either way, Ghana's leading all-time scorer is the focal point of the attack for his country and should benefit most ahead of the up-and-coming Abdul Majeed Waris.

  • The opening game of the World Cup gets under way at 2100 BST on Thursday, June 12.

    Before then we've got more previews for you with Ben Coley picking out the tournament's best specials on Wednesday and Nick Hext looking at bets surrounding England on Thursday.We've already got a preview of the tournament's outright market, plus team-by-team guides, so for the best World Cup betting advice, make sure you stay logged on to Betting Zone.

  • Posted at 0820 BST on 10/06/2014.

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