Neymar to fire Brazil into quarter-finals? Lawro's last-16 predictions

Lawro's World Cup predictions
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.

Half of the 32 teams have gone home, but which of the survivors will go all the way to the World Cup final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 15 July?

The hopes of eight more nations will bite the dust after the first knockout round, which includes France versus Argentina and England against Colombia.

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson is making a prediction for every match in Russia, and correctly guessed the outcome of 22 of the 48 group games.

Before the tournament, Lawro chose 14 of the 16 teams that are through to the first knockout stage, including Brazil, his pick to win the tournament, and England, who he believes will reach the quarter-finals.

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

GamesScoreLawro's prediction
Saturday, 30 June
France v Argentinax-x2-1
Uruguay v Portugalx-x1-0
Sunday, 1 July
Spain v Russiax-x2-0
Croatia v Denmarkx-x2-0
Monday 2 July
Brazil v Mexicox-x2-0
Belgium v Japanx-x2-0
Tuesday 3 July
Sweden v Switzerlandx-x0-1
Colombia v Englandx-x0-2

Saturday, 30 June

France v Argentina

France v Argentina (Kazan Arena, Kazan, 15:00 BST)

If the Argentina players did have a say in team selection and tactics after their talks with coach Jorge Sampaoli, then one of the decisions they made was to go back to playing with a back four.

I still don't think they are very good defensively - but they are trying to keep things simple and as tight as possible, and then look for a bit of genius from Lionel Messi - who did exactly that against Nigeria.

While Argentina only just made it to the last 16, France got out of their group without any trouble whatsoever.

Les Bleus have not played anywhere near to their potential yet, and the disjointed performance in their draw with Denmark was not helped by the changes made by boss Didier Deschamps.

I still think France look far better with Olivier Giroud up front and with Paul Pogba in a deeper role alongside N'Golo Kante, rather than two dedicated defensive midfielders.

Sooner or later, I think we are going to see the France players put in a big performance. If they produce it in Kazan, they will win.

Lawro's prediction: 2-1

Uruguay v Portugal

Uruguay v Portugal (Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, 19:00 BST)

This will be a busy evening for the referee, not least with Uruguay's Atletico Madrid centre-halves Diego Godin and Jose Jimenez up against Portugal's Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal will not change the way they play, which is quite one-dimensional and not particularly inspiring.

Uruguay have not exactly set this tournament alight with their attacking play either, but they are more adventurous and have a few more ideas when they come forward.

Lawro's prediction: 1-0

Sunday, 1 July

Spain v Russia

Spain v Russia (Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, 15:00 BST)

Russia have done very well to get this far, but I think Spain are a step up in class that will be too much for them.

The home support will help the hosts, and there are question marks over some of Spain's defending at this tournament, but the Spanish players will have so much of the ball on Sunday that I don't think it will be a great issue.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Croatia v Denmark

Croatia v Denmark (Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, 19:00 BST)

I have been very impressed by Croatia, I cannot really see a weak link in their midfield, either centrally or out wide, and they have an attacking outlook right through their team.

Denmark, in contrast, are very ordinary. I am sure they will create some chances, but most of their build-up play is under the 'hopeful' category, unless they can get Christian Eriksen on the ball.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Monday, 2 July

Brazil v Mexico

Brazil v Mexico (Samara Arena, Samara, 15:00 BST)

I don't think Brazil enjoy playing against Mexico, who have a decent record against them.

Brazil have won four of their past six meetings but, since 1999, Mexico have won seven and draw three of their 15 matches.

So the Mexicans will not fear them the way some teams do - but they might have problems stopping them.

Brazil look like they are just starting to come to the boil. Neymar has not really got going yet but, when their attack clicks, the pace with which they come forward is frightening.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Belgium v Japan

Belgium v Japan (Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, 19:00 BST)

Senegal were actually the team in Group H that I thought would give Belgium and England problems - but they did not make it into the last 16.

When Belgium have played their strongest side they have not struggled to create chances but, even then, they have not looked like the cohesive unit they will need to be to go far in this tournament.

Roberto Martinez's side will win this tie, though, because I don't think Japan will be able to cope with their attacking power.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Tuesday, 3 July

Sweden v Switzerland

Sweden v Switzerland (Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg, 15:00 BST)

Switzerland have been playing well and got out of Group E without too much fuss.

It is very obvious what Sweden do, and they definitely play to their strengths without having any really talented strikers.

From what I have seen of the Swiss, they just have a little bit more about them, which is why I am backing them to get to the quarter-finals.

Lawro's prediction: 0-1

Colombia v England

Colombia v England (Otkritie Arena, Moscow, 19:00 BST)

I don't buy the theory that England are better off because they lost to Belgium in their final game in Group G.

Forget about them being in what people consider to be the easier half of the draw, because keeping on winning is the best thing you can do at a World Cup - you do not want to risk stopping the momentum you have built up.

So, we will see what effect making so many changes has on England, but I actually think they will be fine against Colombia.

They have some good players, but I don't think they will be able to cope with England's high-pressing game.

Lawro's prediction: 0-2

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