World Cup 2018 on the BBC
Host: Russia Dates: 14 June – 15 July
Live: Coverage across BBC TV, BBC Radio and BBC Sport website with further coverage on Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson is predicting the outcome of all 64 games at the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

He starts with the opening games in each group, which include a mouth-watering all-Iberian encounter between Portugal and Spain, holders Germany against Mexico, and England versus Tunisia. All of those games are live on BBC TV and BBC Radio 5 live.

Lawro also picks his two teams to go through from each group into the knockout stage.

He is backing Brazil to win the World Cup, and believes England will reach the quarter-finals.

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan in Moscow.

Group A

Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Thursday, 14 June
Russia v Saudi Arabia x-x 2-0
Friday, 15 June
Egypt v Uruguay x-x 0-1

Russia v Saudi Arabia (Thursday, 14 June at Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. 16:00 BST)

The opening round of games at World Cups are generally quite tight – there is a bit of tension there and nobody wants to lose, least of all the hosts.

Russia are not a particularly good side, but then neither are Saudi Arabia, and I think home advantage will see them through this game – and get them out of the group too, which will be good for the tournament as a whole.

Egypt v Uruguay (Friday, 15 June at Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg. 13:00 BST)

I said on the night that Mohamed Salah dislocated his shoulder in the Champions League final that he could still be at this World Cup, and it is great for him and for Egypt that he has made it.

There are still questions over Salah, though, firstly about his general fitness and also over his injury. I know from experience that, with your shoulder, the slightest knock can put it out again, and he will be thinking about that a lot.

Even if Salah is at his best, it is going to be hard for Egypt to get out of this group, in their first World Cup since 1990. Uruguay have lots of big-game experience and they will be looking to Luis Suarez to provide some star quality to go with it.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. Russia 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
2. Uruguay 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
3. Egypt 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
4. Saudi Arabia 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Uruguay (winners) and Russia (runners-up)


Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Friday, 15 June
Morocco v Iran x-x 0-0
Friday, 15 June
Portugal v Spain x-x 0-1

Morocco v Iran (Friday, 15 June at Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg. 16:00 BST)

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz is not exactly known for attacking football and Morocco also play in quite a pragmatic style. They only conceded one goal in eight games in qualifying – in a second-round win over Equatorial Guinea.

Looking at the other teams in Group B, you could say that this is a must-win for both sides if they are to have any chance of reaching the last 16, but it is probably more of a ‘must-score’. I am going for a nil-nil.

Portugal v Spain (Friday, 15 June at Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi. 19:00 BST)

Whoever wins this game will top the group and I am backing Spain to edge it. I can see them going deep into this tournament too – I would back them to reach the semi-finals at least.

Portugal won Euro 2016 but they drew all three group games, and they cannot afford another slow start here.

This is Cristiano Ronaldo’s last chance to win the World Cup but I cannot see it happening, and I do not see Portugal making much of an impact in Russia.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. Spain 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
2. Iran 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
3. Morocco 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
4. Portugal 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Spain (winners) and Portugal (runners-up)


Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Saturday, 16 June
France v Australia x-x 2-0
Saturday, 16 June
Peru v Denmark x-x 1-2

France v Australia (Saturday, 16 June at Kazan Arena, Kazan. 11:00 BST)

I am this game and am looking forward to it – Australia might not see much of the ball but they will be well organised, and will work hard and mix it physically too, or as much as they can do.

If you go through the France side, you would think they will win comfortably. I don’t think it will be that easy, but they have got enough match-winners in their team for someone to make the difference when it matters once Australia start to tire.

Peru v Denmark (Saturday, 16 June at Mordovia Arena, Saransk. 17:00 BST)

Peru do not have the strongest defence – they only kept two clean sheets in 18 qualifiers – and I think Denmark’s direct style will cause them problems.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. France 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
2. Denmark 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 3
3. Peru 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
4. Australia 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: France (winners) and Denmark (runners-up)


Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Saturday, 16 June
Argentina v Iceland x-x 2-0
Saturday, 16 June
Croatia v Nigeria x-x 1-0

Argentina v Iceland (Saturday, 16 June at Otkrytie Arena, Moscow. 14:00 BST)

Portugal might have won Euro 2016, but Iceland were arguably the team of the tournament. They and their fans were just fantastic.

Now they are up against Lionel Messi and it will be fascinating to see how they get on.

Argentina have some issues defensively but at the other end of the pitch they have got plenty of players who can potentially win them the game, no matter how well Iceland defend.

Sergio Aguero was not fully fit at the last World Cup and did not score a goal but the Manchester City striker ended his season early to have knee surgery so he was ready for Russia, and he should be a lot fresher this time.

Croatia v Nigeria (Saturday, 16 June at Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad. 20:00 BST)

Croatia play on the front foot but they are solid as well as skilful and I think they will be too strong for Nigeria.

Former Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi, who now plays in China, is probably Nigeria’s best player and their hopes of making it out of the group rest largely upon his shoulders.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. Argentina 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
2. Croatia 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
3. Nigeria 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
4. Iceland 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Argentina (winners) and Croatia (runners-up)


Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Sunday, 17 June
Costa Rica v Serbia x-x 0-0
Sunday, 17 June
Brazil v Switzerland x-x 2-0

Costa Rica v Serbia (Sunday, 17 June at Samara Arena, Samara. 13:00 BST)

Costa Rica were the surprise package of the 2014 World Cup but people will be ready for them this time.

I am not convinced Serbia will make it out of Group E either. Aleksandar Mitrovic got a hat-trick against Bolivia over the weekend and did well for Fulham last season – but as a goalscorer he is only really proven in the Championship.

Brazil v Switzerland (Sunday, 17 June at Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don. 19:00 BST)

Brazil are my pick to win the World Cup, because the players they have got in midfield and attack are just frightening.

Switzerland, in contrast, are more workmanlike but, as a team, they are greater than the sum of their parts. I don’t see them causing Brazil too many problems, but they can finish second in Group E.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. Brazil 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
2. Costa Rica 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
3. Serbia 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
4. Switzerland 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Brazil (winners) and Switzerland (runners-up)


Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Sunday, 17 June
Germany v Mexico x-x 1-0
Monday, 18 June
Sweden v South Korea x-x 1-1

Germany v Mexico (Sunday, 17 June at Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. 16:00 BST)

Germany have stuttered since qualifying but I think normal service will resume once the tournament starts.

Mexico have got some talented footballers and they play in a style that is easy on the eye but you would back Germany to get the job done.

Sweden v South Korea (Monday, 18 June at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. 13:00 BST)

South Korea will be relying a lot on Tottenham Son Heung-min while Sweden’s are brilliant defensively – they kept seven clean sheets in 12 qualifying games and Italy could not manage a goal against them in either leg of their play-off.

But that will not win them the World Cup – in fact, it might not even get them out of their group. There is effectively one space in Group F, behind Germany, and who will get it is very hard to call.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. Germany 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
2. South Korea 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
3. Sweden 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
4. Mexico 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Germany (winners) and Mexico (runners-up)


Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Monday, 18 June
Belgium v Panama x-x 2-0
Monday, 18 June
Tunisia v England x-x 0-2

Belgium v Panama (Monday, 18 June at Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi. 16:00 BST)

I am in Sochi for this game and Belgium look pretty tasty at the moment. They are scoring plenty of goals and their only worry is about Vincent Kompany’s fitness, because he is such a big influence on the team.

Panama’s aim will be to keep Belgium at bay, but I do not see them succeeding for long.

Tunisia v England (Monday, 18 June at Volgograd Arena, Volgograd. 19:00 BST)

This is a banana skin for England but I don’t foresee any slip-ups for Gareth Southgate’s side.

I like the way they are set up and they have players on the bench who can change the game if they are needed.

The heat in Volgograd could be a factor and I am sure there will be some nerves too, but I still think England will win.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. Belgium 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
2. England 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
3. Tunisia 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0
4. Panama 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Belgium (winners) and England (runners-up)


Games Score Lawro’s prediction
Tuesday, 19 June
Colombia v Japan x-x 1-0
Tuesday, 19 June
Poland v Senegal x-x 1-0

Colombia v Japan (Tuesday, 19 June at Mordovia Arena, Saransk. 13:00 BST)

Japan are a neat and tidy side but I just feel Colombia have got something about them when they get to the World Cup – they do not seem frightened to play.

Colombia reached the quarter-finals four years ago and James Rodriguez scored the goal of the tournament. I can see them doing something to stand out this time, and I am backing them to start with a win too.

Poland v Senegal (Tuesday, 19 June at Otkrytie Arena, Moscow. 16:00 BST)

Poland remind me of Sweden and Denmark in that they might not do anything spectacular but they are solid. Having Robert Lewandowski up front definitely helps too.

Senegal have a dangerman in attack too, of course, with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, but I am not sure they are so strong in other areas of their team.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1. Colombia 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
2. Poland 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
3. Japan 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
4. Senegal 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0

Lawro’s pre-tournament picks to go through: Colombia (winners) and Poland (runners-up)

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