Belgium manager Roberto Martinez will hope that Kevin de Bruyne can take his Premier League form on to the world stage. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Eish, this World Cup... Who would’ve thought that defending champions Germany would lose to Mexico?

Or the mighty Brazil being held by Switzerland? I’m now officially scared to do my predictions!

Is this the Copa Mundial for the underdogs? The Jules Rimet trophy has been won by just eight nations – Brazil (5), Germany (4), Italy (4), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), England (1), France (1) and Spain (1).

Let’s see what Monday has in store for us in Russia...

2pm: Sweden v Korea Republic

After the shock Mexican win over Germany, Group F is suddenly wide open. But can Sweden capitalise without Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Marcus Berg is the man tasked to score the goals, and he will have strong support from Emil Forsberg in midfield.

Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof will also want to show why Jose Mourinho brought him to shore up the defence at Old Trafford.

But South Korea do boast a Premier League star of their own in Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, who will look to inspire them to the heights of 2002, when they reached the semi-finals.

Prediction: Sweden 1-0 South Korea

5pm: Belgium v Panama

At last, we will see one of the dark horses for the title in Belgium. Always a promising outfit, the Belgians now boast a truly world-class side, led by the classy Eden Hazard.

Kevin de Bruyne is also regarded as one of the best players in the Premier League – and he would want to prove that such a claim should include the rest of the globe.

They shouldn’t have problems with scoring goals, as Romelu Lukaku, Hazard, De Bruyne and Marouane Fellaini are all capable of finding the net.

They are well-stocked in defence as well, where Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen and – if fully fit – Vincent Kompany are a formidable back division.

Panama qualified for the World Cup for the first time, and did so at the expense of USA. So they won’t be pushovers, but shouldn’t really be able to keep up with Belgium...

Prediction: Belgium 2-0 Panama

8pm: Tunisia v England

Ah, ‘Ingerland’ – is it going to happen for the multi-millionaires this time around? Manager Gareth Southgate led the side to an unbeaten qualifying campaign, so they did more than what they had to do.

A young side led by 24-year-old star striker Harry Kane, there is enough quality around to mount a challenge for the title. Kane can be partnered by any of Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford upfront, and they will have a steady supply from Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Ashley Young.

First port of call is getting past Tunisia, then Panama to get out of the group. The North Africans have seldom been a factor at World Cups, and had a relatively easy qualifying group of Mauritania, Guinea, Libya and DR Congo.

So this is probably as comfortable a start that England could’ve wished for, but then again, we’ve seen what has happened at this tournament already.

Prediction: England 1-0 Tunisia

 

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