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Charlie Nicholas’ World Cup predictions: Can Russia make it three from three?

12:59 pm, 25th June 2018

Stepping in as a late substitute for Paul Merson, Charlie offers up his thoughts on Monday’s crucial games, including Uruguay v Russia, Iran v Portugal and Spain v Morocco.

Argentina then take on Nigeria and Germany face South Korea later in the week, with Jorge Sampaoli and Joachim Low both knowing defeats would almost certainly end their World Cup hopes in Russia.

England will then battle it out for top spot in Group G with Belgium on Thursday, so who is Charlie tipping to come out on top?

Uruguay v Russia (Monday 3pm, Group A)

The pressure on Uruguay, as it was for Russia, to win the first two games was extremely intense. They found a way to get the job done and I think they’ll do the same again. The experience at the back of Diego Godin and of course Luis Suarez getting his first goal of the tournament against Saudi Arabia, I think Uruguay are off and running now.


Saudi Arabia v Egypt (Monday 3pm, Group A)

There’s nothing but pride to play for in this one. There’s been a fair bit of embarrassment for Saudi Arabia at this tournament but they restored a bit of pride with their performance against Uruguay. There’s nothing for these two sides to gain by being defensive so let’s see what they’ve got going forward. Hopefully we can see Mohamed Salah play to his full potential after his injury. I’m expecting the Liverpool forward to be the star of the show and score both goals.


Iran v Portugal (Monday 7pm, Group B)

There’s top spot to play for in this game for Portugal but it’s more than just that for Cristiano Ronaldo. He would have seen what Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane did in their last matches and we all know about the individual ego and his quality. Portugal will definitely want to finish top of this group so they’ll be going all out for victory but I can see this being a little awkward. Iran didn’t look the worst side against Spain and there is still a chance they could go through and send Portugal out. There’s still a little bit of tension in the air but I’m going to back Ronaldo to get back on the scoresheet in a Portugal win.


Spain v Morocco (Monday 7pm, Group B)

I love watching Spain because of their style of play. I’m sure the majority of people love watching it because it’s really good on the eye. They put in a great performance against Portugal and only got a point and then they struggled in the last game so there’s still a little bit of a nervousness about them. Diego Costa has scored goals and that’s a bonus but at the same time he doesn’t always fit into the structure. There are still a few issues there but I expect them to work through them and say: “let’s go and win this”. I’m backing them to wipe the floor with Morocco.