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Merson’s World Cup predictions: Will England make it two wins from two against Panama?

1:26 pm, 20th June 2018

Germany face Sweden in Sochi on Saturday knowing that defeat would almost certainly end their hopes of defending their title, while Spain and Portugal go in search of their first win in Group B on Wednesday.

England take on Panama on Sunday hoping to progress from the group stages, so who is the Magic Man tipping to come out on top?

Portugal v Morocco (Wednesday 1pm, Group B)

I make Portugal a certainty here. They are runners to win the whole thing – Morocco shouldn’t provide much competition, especially after the way they lost their opener.

Iran were pretty useless but Morocco couldn’t break them down.

They haven’t got a hope of stopping Cristiano Ronaldo in his current form.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (Wednesday 4pm, Group A)

There could be a battering incoming. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani had a bit of a nightmare against Egypt but they can fill their boots against Saudi Arabia.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (9/1 with Sky Bet)

Iran v Spain (Wednesday 7pm, Group B)

This should be a walk in the park, especially if Spain score early. They could even rest some of their stars if the manager wants to keep them fresh. Although they won, Iran were useless against Morocco.

PAUL PREDICTS: 0-4 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

Denmark v Australia (Thursday 1pm, Group C)

Even though Denmark beat Peru, I thought they looked very poor. They got lucky as Peru were one of the best teams I’ve seen at this tournament – they just lacked a final finish. Australia showed how hard they are to beat against France – they looked comfortable for a large part of that game. I think the Aussies may lack quality going forward but I can’t have Denmark.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (10/1 with Sky Bet)

France v Peru (Thursday 4pm, Group C)

Peru have got every chance here. I don’t see France winning this match.

From working the ball back to front, Peru were as good as I’ve seen in this tournament while France were so lacklustre against Australia – they need to start Olivier Giroud. Peru have an identity, France don’t. I’ll go for a score draw.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (8/1 with Sky Bet)

Argentina v Croatia (Thursday 7pm, Group D)

The pressure is on Argentina – this is a tough game. Croatia are so strong in midfield. However, going forward Argentina have so much quality – I’ll side with them.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (7/1 with Sky Bet)

Brazil v Costa Rica (Friday 1pm, Group E)

Brazil looked decent in spells in their opener but at times it was like the Neymar show. He demands the ball, but will only pass it if he knows he can get it back. Every pass he makes is with the hope of getting it back. This will be easy for them but I’d like to see more cohesion from them.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (8/1 with Sky Bet)

Nigeria v Iceland (Friday 4pm, Group D)

Iceland are one of the best around at setting up not to be beaten – but they’ll need to go out and win this match. If they win this then Argentina could be in a bit of bother depending on results. I’ve got to go for Iceland as Nigeria were awful against Croatia.

PAUL PREDICTS: 0-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Serbia v Switzerland (Friday 7pm, Group E)

Both these teams are solid and full of experience. I like Switzerland – they could be the team to surprise everyone. They need to win this game and I think they will.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (10/1 with Sky Bet)

Belgium v Tunisia (Saturday 1pm, Group G)

Belgium will hurt Tunisia more than England did – they have more guile and creativity with the ball than us. Eden Hazard has got to learn to release the ball quicker but he’s class. Tunisia, who will be heartbroken, won’t cope with him.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (8/1 with Sky Bet)

South Korea v Mexico (Saturday 4pm, Group F)

Mexico were as good as it can get against Germany – they were outstanding on the counter-attack. They’ll win this game easily.

PAUL PREDICTS: 0-2 (7/1 with Sky Bet)

Germany v Sweden (Saturday 7pm, Group F)

Germany were so disrespectful and inefficient against Mexico. They have to win this game otherwise qualification is out of their hands. They could be going home.

However, when German teams need a result, they step up.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

England v Panama (Sunday 1pm, Group G)

This should be a comfortable victory – more comfortable than the Tunisia win. I’d play Raheem Sterling – if you leave him out it will dent his confidence, he’s been a big part of this team.

After this one, it’s going to be weird watching the England v Belgium game, knowing both teams will probably want to finish second!

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (7/1 with Sky Bet)

Japan v Senegal (Sunday 4pm, Group H)

After they both won their first game, this has got draw written all over it.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Poland v Colombia (Sunday 7pm, Group H)

How much would you pay for Robert Lewandowski after his performance against Senegal? Not much. He was unbelievably bad. I wasn’t impressed with Poland in their opener. Colombia will be a different proposition with 11 men on the pitch, they’ll bounce back.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (8/1 with Sky Bet)