Hazard a worthy front-runner for Player of the Tournament - The candidates

As we approach the World Cup semi-finals and the Jules Rimet trophy comes into focus for the four remaining sides, there are a number of players that will still be eyeing individual prizes too.

While Harry Kane is the front-runner for the Golden Boot, two goals clear in the race for the gong, the odds are far tighter when it comes to the Golden Ball.

As one would expect the candidates jostling for top spot in the odds are all still in with a chance to strengthen their claim, so we take a look at those most deserving of consideration at this stage.

The highest ranked player in WhoScored.com’s statistical ratings is Eden Hazard (8.56), and the Belgium captain is currently third favourite to pick up the award after a superb showing against Brazil.

The Chelsea star completed nine dribbles - the joint most in a single game at this World Cup - as the Red Devils upset the odds and he showed Neymar how it was done. The key difference between the two tricksters is Hazard’s willingness to stay on his feet when he knows it would be to his advantage, and while he’s intelligent to go down in situations when his teammates could do with some respite, the 27-year-old never feigns injury or exaggerates contact.

He has led by example with his football for Roberto Martinez’s side, scoring twice and registering two assists, while a total of 22 dribbles is third only to Isco and Lionel Messi. Should Hazard lift the World Cup come Sunday his chances of picking up an individual accolade to boot would increase substantially.

As the leading scorer at the tournament it’s no surprise Harry Kane ranks highly in the player ratings, sitting fifth overall and second of the remaining semi-finalists (8.25). It’s no given that he will win the Golden Boot but in truth the two awards haven’t gone hand in hand in recent times, with Salvatore Schillaci the last man to win both back in 1990.

Kane’s six goal haul would already have been enough to at least equal the leading scorers’ tally at nine of the last ten World Cups. That's despite the fact that as many as 32 players have averaged more shots per game (2.5), while 22 have mustered more attempts in total (10). That amounts to a 60 per cent conversion rate for the Spurs star, while no goalkeeper has managed to keep out a shot on target from the England captain.

Sticking with the Three Lions, according to the bookies Kieran Trippier isn’t even an outside shot to win the player of the tournament award. The wing-back has, nevertheless, enjoyed a fantastic debut World Cup to date, earning the sixth highest rating thus far (8.04) and third of those remaining.


Source: whoScored

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