For any player at a World Cup the primary objective is always to lift the trophy but the Golden Boot award will inevitably always be in the back of any hungry strikers’ mind., writes Tom Dean.
Six goals was enough for Germany’s Celia Sasic to take the gong back in 2015 but we are on course to see that total beaten this time around with Alex Morgan and Ellen White already drawing level.
Sasic finished the tournament tied with the USA’s Carli Lloyd for goals scored meaning assists were be taken into account but with both players equal on one, the German edged Lloyd with a superior goals/minutes ratio.
Competition for the award this time around has been fierce but with just two games of the tournament remaining, it feels as though it come down to fine margins once more.
Here’s a closer look at the main contenders for the prestigious prize:
Alex Morgan, USA – 6 goals, 3 assists
Despite not scoring or assisting since the USA’s opening round 13-0 demolition job on Thailand, Morgan remains in pole position to become only the second American to pick up the award after Michelle Akers in 1991.
The 29-year-old’s five-goal haul against a helpless Thai defence equalled Akers’ record for most goals scored in a single game but it was her three assists in the that could prove crucial to securing the Golden Boot.
Head coach Jill Ellis rested her star striker for the second group game against Chile and then replaced her at half-time during their third match against Sweden restricting Morgan to just half the available group stage game time.
But it has been during the knockout stages that her main competition has emerged with her only goal so far coming proving to be the decisive one that sent the USA’s into the final and forced England to settle for a spot in the third-place play-off.
Ellen White, ENG – 6 goals, 0 assists
Perhaps not a name that many would have anticipated seeing on this list before the tournament but Ellen White has been deadly in front of goal this summer.
The soon-to-be Manchester City striker can now call herself England’s all-time highest scoring player at women’s World Cups having added six to one she scored back in 2011.
White has scored in all five of the games that Phil Neville has used her in and been the main beneficiary of the form shown by England’s wide players Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris.
England have been awarded four penalties so far in France, with Parris scoring just one of her three and captain Steph Houghton stepping up to the spot only to dramatically miss another late on against the USA.
England fans have been left asking the question ‘why has White not been taking them all along?’ and if she had, would she be a country mile ahead of her rivals by now?
Megan Rapinoe, USA – 5 goals, 3 assists
In stark contrast to teammate Morgan, Megan Rapinoe’s goals have been spread out over the tournament and proved crucial in securing USA safe passage to the latter stages.
Just a single goal in the Thailand rout meant she arrived in the knockout rounds well behind the leaders but is now firmly in the running with four goals in her last two games.
The co-captain has been hitting the headlines off the field but it was her two penalties that saw Ellis’ side past Spain the last 16 while a brace against France ensured Wendie Renard’s header was merely a consolation.
Rapinoe was forced to sit out of the USA’s semi-final win over England but like Morgan, her assists tally could decide the destination of the award if she able to contribute in the final and her teammate stays quiet.
Vivianne Miedema, NED & Carli Lloyd, USA – 3 goals, 0 assists
Only a fool would completely rule out the possibility of Dutch goal-machine Vivianne Miedema taking the award, a strong favourite for winning the award by most of the online betting sites, especially given her love for scoring hat-tricks.
The Arsenal striker scored three trebles in the FA WSL last season and has established herself as one of the best strikers in the world over the last 12 months but would need to go one better and score four in the final to make a late swoop.
And Carli Lloyd knows all about World Cup hat-tricks after she scored three in the USA’s 2015 final win over Japan.
The veteran American has found her playing time limited in France but has an incredible record of a goal every 63 minutes so far in the tournament and knows how to stick the ball away if she is given the opportunity.
Follow Tom on Twitter @tombendean