Golden Ball betting: World Cup 2018 guide

Golden Ball betting guide: World Cup 2018 FIFA player of the tournament odds

The World Cup Golden Ball was won by Luka Modric. The outstanding player at the World Cup in Russia!

Well played Luka!

World Cup 2018 – Golden Ball betting – best player odds – Bet365 table – constantly updated

With two games to go of the World Cup: Where the Golden Ball race stands

Quite simply, this is a two-horse race.

France wonderkid Kylian Mbappe is the favourite. Going into the World Cup final, Mbappe is 10/11.

Mbappe enhanced his chances in the semi-final win over Belgium. He may not have scored, but the PSG attacker pulled out what must have been the skill of the World Cup.

One man can stop Mbappe winning, and that is Croatia’s Luka Modric.

The Real Madrid man was in inspired form against England, once again schooling Jordan Henderson in a major game.

Modric provides the value right now, unless Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba or Hugo Lloris doing something rather special in the final.

With four games to go of the World Cup: Where the Golden Ball race stands

Everyone knows the Golden Boot standings and with two games now to go, it will be hard for anyone to beat Harry Kane.

The likes of Kylian Mbappe and Romelu Lukaku could still do it, but the Golden Ball is arguably the most fascinating of all the World Cup individual markets.

Not least because it so open. There is no clear favourite and you have to say that so much will depend on who wins the competition.

Kylian Mbappe & Harry Kane lead the way in Golden Ball betting

The joint favourites ahead of the semi-finals are Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane.

Goals in the semi-final and final, or even if their respective sides win the competition, will ensure the prize head to the French youngster or England talisman.

The dark horses offer plenty of value.

Three Belgians have a chance, in Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.

Whilst Luka Modric will be the overwhelming choice if Croatia win the World Cup.

Don’t rule out Antoine Griezmann either.

Bottom line, this market will be determined by the winner. If you think you know who is going to take home the trophy, then predicting this market should be easy!


From the first weekend of the tournament:

Cristiano Ronaldo takes the lead in Golden Ball betting?

We are just a few days into the World Cup and there is little doubt who has taken an early lead in the betting.

It is that man Cristiano Ronaldo, thanks to a brilliant hat-trick for Portugal against Spain.

Ronaldo is now 6/1 to win the Golden Ball and after just one game is the favourite for the Golden Ball market.

Meanwhile, Leo Messi can now be backed at odds of 12/1 for the Golden Ball after a poor first Argentina game against Iceland.

Messi failed to score, missed a penalty and also had a chance to replicate Cristiano Ronaldo with a late free-kick but smacked it into the Iceland wall.

It could well be a battle between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball, the way things are progressing.

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Spain World Cup

SOCHI, RUSSIA – JUNE 15: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores a free-kick for his team’s third goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Portugal and Spain at Fisht Stadium on June 15, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Player by player: World Cup Golden Ball betting guide – from the start of the tournament

RECIFE, BRAZIL – MARCH 25: Neymar of Brazil reacts during a match between Brazil and Uruguay as part of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifiers at Arena Pernanbuco on March 25, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Neymar – Brazil

Neymar is the most expensive man in football after his summer move to PSG from Barcelona last year.

The 26 year old has been in the Brazil line up since 2010 and has scored 53 goals in 83 matches for his country.

Neymar was expected to be the star and the hero of the 2014 World Cup on home soil but an unfortunate injury ruled Neymar out of the final matches of the tournament.

Four years on, injury almost ruined Neymar’s dreams once again but the flashy winger will be fit and ready for the World Cup campaign which will begin for Brazil on the 17th June against Switzerland.

Neymar: The summer to become a legend

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the two best players in world football consistently for over a decade. The one thing that neither of those players have ever done is win the World Cup.

Neymar’s Brazil are one of the favourites for the tournament, largely down to the fact that Neymar is in the side. If Brazil are to go all the way, Neymar will surely play a key role.

If Brazil are to win their first World Cup since 2002, Neymar will become a legend in his country and will surely win the Golden Ball.

Lionel Messi for Argentina

Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during the Brazil Global Tour match between Brazil and Argentina at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 9, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi – Argentina

Many believe that Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time. The five time Ballon d’Or winner has been sensational for club and country over the past 12 years and has certainly cemented his name firmly in football history.

Some people say that Pele and Maradona were better as they both won the World Cup during their careers whilst Messi is yet to win an international trophy.

If Argentina win the World Cup this summer, you know that Messi will have something to do with it. He will surely give himself the status as the greatest of all time with a World Cup win.

Russia 2018 could prove to be Messi’s last ever World Cup and he is absolutely desperate to win the trophy which he came agonisingly close to winning in Brazil four years ago.

Argentina’s Messiah

Messi is Argentina’s record goal scorer and never seems to shy away when it matters most.

The magical forward has scored in two Champions League finals and netted four times during the last tournament in Brazil.

Messi will be going up against Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland in the group stage of the competition; three teams with defences that Messi can easily exploit.

Antoine Griezmann scores for France

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 28: Antoine Griezmann (2ndR) of France celebrates with team mates after scoring only for the goal to be disallowed during the International Friendly match between France and Spain at Stade de France on March 28, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Antoine Griezmann – France

France were ever so close to winning Euro 2016 on home soil but were beaten 1-0 in the final by underdogs Portugal.

The French national team will want to redeem themselves in Russia and enter the tournament as one of the favourites.

Griezmann was the top scorer at Euro 2016 as he netted 6 goals in 7 games. The Atletico Madrid forward was also named as the best player of the tournament.

This season, Griezmann scored 29 goals for Atletico Madrid including a brace in the Europa League final against Marseille.

The French team is filled with stars but Griezmann is a guaranteed starter after his heroics over the past few seasons.

Antoine the ever present

In France’s last two tournaments, the World Cup 2014 and EURO 2016, Griezmann played in every single match.

Didier Deschamps loves the tricky forward who has a killer eye for goal as well as terrific dribbling skills.

At Atletico Madrid, Griezmann waits for the ball before creating some magic but with France, he plays in a team filled with attacking flair and talent meaning that he can perform to the best of his ability and show off his skills.

France face Australia, Peru and Denmark in Group C; three teams with poor defences which Griezmann can exploit. The 27-year-old is likely to grab plenty of goals and assists in Russia.

James Rodriguez was one of the best players in Brazil four years ago and played in a very similar position to Griezmann. The difference between the two this time is that Griezmann is playing in a brilliant side that are tipped to go all the way.

Cristiano Ronaldo lifts Euro 2016 trophy with Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo lifts the Euro 2016 trophy following the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal

We surely will never see two players quite like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ever again and this will probably be the last time we see the duo play at a World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won four out of the last 5 Ballon d’Or awards and has been absolutely sensational for club and country since 2004.

In 2016, Ronaldo had the most perfect year of his career as he won the Champions League title, EURO 2016 and the Ballon d’Or.

Two years on, Ronaldo has just won the Champions League once again and is on his way to winning his 6th Ballon d’Or. He knows that a brilliant performance in Russia will guarantee him the award and therefore be one ahead of Lionel Messi in terms of individual honours.

Portugal aren’t expected to do so well in Russia but neither were they expected to win EURO 2016.

Realistically, Portugal don’t have the squad depth and quality that Germany, Brazil, Spain and Argentina possess but they do have one very special player in Cristiano Ronaldo.

The best year of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career?

Ronaldo has already scored 30 goals in 2018 for Real Madrid and Portugal which is an astonishing achievement.

Ronaldo is more than just a big game player and always performs when the pressure is on.

The former Manchester United man could become only the fourth player in history to score in four different World Cups if he hits the back of the next this summer. (After Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose).

If Ronaldo is to win the World Cup with Portugal, it would be hard to argue with the fact that he is the greatest ever player, even better than Lionel Messi…

Kevin De Bruyne vs Leicester

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 10: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City retrieves the ball during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Etihad Stadium on February 10, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Kevin De Bruyne – Belgium

Belgium are a fantastic side who have never really reached their full potential.

They may not be expected to win the tournament but most fans and pundits would be disappointed with the Belgian national team if they don’t at least reach the quarter finals.

Kevin De Bruyne is the man who makes Belgium tick. The Manchester City man was vital for his club side as they broke almost every record on their path to winning the Premier League title.

De Bruyne picked up 16 assists in England’s top flight this term and was named as Manchester City’s player of the season.

Belgium will face England, Tunisia and Panama in Group G this summer and they are expected to score plenty of goals.

De Bruyne is known for picking up excellent assists and scoring with superb long range strikes.

The 26-year-old will want to carry on his brilliant domestic form for his country this summer as Belgium hope to win their first ever international tournament.

Kevin De Bruyne’s individual brilliance

De Bruyne’s individual records and awards are something else. The 26 year old hasn’t even reached the peak of his career yet but is one of the best players on the planet.

Debatably, there are no better playmakers on the planet than the Belgian and he has a chance to shine in Russia this summer.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 03: David Silva of Manchester City celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

David Silva – Spain

Just like a fine wine, David Silva gets better with age.

The Spaniard won the World Cup back in 2010 along with two European titles in 2008 and 2012.

Silva has been fantastic for Manchester City this term and has the potential to light up the World Cup this summer in Russia.

The 32 year old has 119 caps for his country and has scored 35 goals including one against Italy in the Euro 2012 final.

Silva was directly involved in just under a fifth of City’s goals this season despite missing nine matches.

The former Valencia man knows that this will be his last World Cup and he will surely want to end his international career on a high.

Silva is skilful and provides plenty of great balls for strikers to latch onto.


LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 19: Eden Hazard of Chelsea looks on during a Chelsea FC Press Conference ahead of their Champions League last 16 match against FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on February 19, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Eden Hazard – Belgium

Eden Hazard is one of the most gifted players on the planet. Few players can match the same levels of consistency that the Belgian has shown over the past few years.

Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2012, Hazard has been the stand out player for Chelsea almost every season.

Hazard has an incredible record for Chelsea. In 300 games for the club, Hazard has 89 goals and 75 assists to his name.

He even netted the winning goal in the FA Cup final this season against Manchester United at Wembley.

For Belgium, Hazard is just as good.

The 27 year old is the captain of his country and has scored 23 goals in 83 performances for the Belgian Red Devils.

Caution: Big game Hazard

Hazard always performs when the pressure is on. At EURO 2016, Hazard picked up four assists in five matches whilst also netting against Hungary.

The Chelsea forward has never scored at the World Cup but will surely hit the target against Panama or Tunisia.

He consistently runs rings around defenders in the Premier League and he will be facing a number of them when Belgium play England on June 28.


MADRID, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 02: Spain’s midfielder Isco celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Spain and Italy at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Isco – Spain

Isco has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world over the past few seasons.

The 26 year old has played a vital role in Real Madrid’s four Champions League wins in the last 5 seasons and has recently become a hero for his country.

Isco doesn’t always see eye to eye with Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane but Spain’s boss Julen Lopetegui absolutely adores him.

Isco has scored 7 goals in his last 7 matches for Spain and is a guaranteed starter in Russia.

Spain’s midfield is up there with the best on the planet and Isco is the man who will make it all tick.

Unlike the olden days where Xavi and Iniesta partnered each other in central midfield, Isco runs the show for Spain with his fantastic dribbling and his brilliant eye for goal.

Spain will surely progress comfortably to the knockout stages of the tournament as they have the likes of Morocco and Iran in their group.

Spain do have one tough fixture, against Portugal, and if Isco can perform well in that match, he will surely flourish for the rest of the campaign.



PSG Mbappe

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 22: Kylian Mbappe of PSG celebrates after scoring his sides fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Paris Saint-Germain and Celtic FC at Parc des Princes on November 22, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Kylian Mbappe – France

Kylian Mbappe is without a doubt, the most talented teenager in the world right now.

The 19 year old broke onto the world scene during the 2016/17 season with Monaco. Mbappe has won back to back Ligue 1 titles with two different clubs and is surely itching to play at his first international tournament.

Mbappe has already scored 51 goals in his short professional career including three for the French national team.

Domestically, Mbappe has won the lot and he would love nothing more than to continue his success with his national side.

Mbappe is one of the most skilful and exciting players in the world and is never afraid of trying new tricks.

The exciting moments, great goals and fantastic pieces of skill are surely going to come largely from France this summer, and in particular from Mbappe.



during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Andres Iniesta – Spain

The picture above is one of the most iconic photos in football history. It was taken just seconds after Andres Iniesta scored the winning goal at the World Cup final in South Africa against Holland.

Iniesta became a legend overnight after scoring the goal that made Spain the champions of the world and he is adored across the globe by all football fans.

The Spaniard played his last match for his boyhood club Barcelona just a few weeks ago and is coming to the end of his international career.

The World Cup in Russia will be Iniesta’s final international tournament and he will want to end his Spain career off in the best way possible.

After watching Iniesta over the past few seasons, it seems bizarre to think that he is 34 years old.

Iniesta has an incredible record for both club and country winning 32 major titles with Barcelona and three trophies with Spain.

Iniesta is the only man ever to be named as the man of the match in a World Cup final, a European Championships final and a Champions League final.

The Catalan born midfielder has ice running through his veins and isn’t fazed by anything or anyone.

Freakish fitness

Although Iniesta is reaching the end of his career, there are no signs of him tiring. The 34 year old played 44 matches for Barcelona this season and looked as good as ever.

Iniesta is Spain’s fifth most capped player ever and needs just five more appearances to overtake Antoni Zubizarreta in fourth.

Iniesta will surely have the quality to rule the midfield against Morocco and Iran whilst he has previously enjoyed matches against Portugal at international tournaments.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 15: Paul Pogba of Manchester United reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on January 15, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Paul Pogba – France

Paul Pogba clearly has the potential to be the best midfielder in the world. Pogba has come under serious criticism during his time at Manchester United but that is largely down to his astronomical price tag.

Pogba is a fan’s favourite for both his club and country. The 25 year old has scored 9 goals in 52 games for the French national team and is usually one of the stand out performers.

The former Juventus man is known for scoring long range screamers and controlling games from the centre of midfield.

Pogba can play both deep and attacking roles meaning that he is always in the thick of the action. A Golden Ball winner usually has a lot to say about the tournament’s outcome.

Pogba certainly has the ability and team mates to be the key player in Russia.

Pogba scored headers at both the 2014 World Cup and EURO 2016. He will surely add to his tally of goals at international tournaments this summer.

Pogba will play behind the likes of Griezmann, Mbappe and Giroud who are sure to grab the goals and headlines but it will be Pogba who has the major say on the outcome of matches.

There are few players as skilful, strong and stable as Pogba which means that he could prove to be an inspired punt for the Golden Ball.



Gabriel Jesus – Brazil

The final player on the list is another man from Manchester City, Gabriel Jesus.

The picture of Jesus painting the streets preparing for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has gone viral on numerous occasions and it shows just how far he has come in the last few years.

Jesus arrived in English football as a relatively unknown wonderkid but everybody knows him now.

The young Brazilian has 24 goals and 10 assists to his name at Manchester City and has won the Premier League and Carabao Cup with The Citizens.

For Brazil, Jesus is just something else. The 21 year old forward averages a goal every 76 minutes for his country which is quite simply remarkable.

Jesus has scored 9 goals and claimed 5 assists in just 15 matches for Brazil meaning he is involved in a goal every hour or so whilst playing for his country.

Goals are sure to come thick and fast from the Brazilians and Gabriel Jesus will surely score a bunch of them.


Previous World Cup Golden Ball winners

2014 World Cup in Brazil: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

2010 World Cup in South Africa: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

2006 World Cup in Germany: Zinedine Zidane (France)

2002 World Cup in Japan & Korea: Oliver Kahn (Germany)

1998 World Cup in France: Ronaldo (Brazil)

What can we learn from previous World Cup Golden Ball winners?

Interestingly, the winner of the Golden Ball isn’t always an out and out goal scorer.

Oliver Kahn won the award in 2002 despite being a goalkeeper which shows that anybody can win the prize.

The one consistency that runs through all of the players is that they all reached at least the semi-finals.

Another interesting thing to note is that the top scorer at the tournament isn’t necessarily the one who wins the Golden Ball.

In fact, only Diego Forlan (2010) won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot out of the five players mentioned above.

Related: World Cup 2018 top goalscorer: Golden Boot betting guide.

Download a free World Cup 2018 Excel spreadsheet for predictions & sweepstakes.

Why you need a VPN?
Cut chords:
Watch everything (Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu) online using a VPN.
Unlock geoblocking:
A VPN gives you access to the best content from anywhere in the world.
Privacy & security:
A VPN keeps your information private, activity encrypted & data anonymous.
Just $6.67 a month + 3 months free!
Click here for more Premier League betting tips

Back Harry Kane to win the World Cup Golden Ball: 7/2!