'England have clear path to World Cup semi-finals'

Gareth Southgate England World Cup 2018
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Paul Merson believes that the Three Lions will be disappointed if they fail to reach the last four of the tournament in Russia

England have a clear path to the World Cup semi-finals and should not be afraid of Colombia, according to former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson.

The Three Lions finished second in Group G, beating Tunisia and Panama, but losing to Belgium, and many have speculated that their finish actually leaves them with an easier route through the tournament.

Indeed, while Belgium could face Brazil or Mexico in the quarter-finals, the Three Lions will play either Sweden or Switzerland, provided they can beat Colombia.

Jose Pekerman's side topped Group H by two points, having defeated Senegal and Poland, though they also lost to runners-up Japan.

And Merson insists that they provide very little threat to England's dreams of winning the tournament in Russia.

"I watched Colombia the other day and there's nothing to be scared of there for England," he told Sky Sports.

"They are dangerous at set plays but we are as good as anybody at set plays. I was sat there watching the Belgium game saying please don't score!

"If we don't get to the last four I'd be shocked. At the start of the tournament, we were saying that if we'd get past the quarter-finals it'd be great but if we don't get to a semi-final now it won't have been a very good tournament."

Despite Merson's ebullience, he has backed Brazil to win the tournament, despite the Samba stars facing a tricky last 16 encounter against Germany's conquerors, Mexico.

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"I've always said we've had a chance but at the moment I can't see past Brazil," he added.

"However, from here if we don't reach the semi-finals you have to class it as disappointing. The route we've got now is Colombia, who have been poor and had James Rodriguez limp out of the Senegal game.

"Then it's Sweden or Switzerland. No disrespect to the two countries but if you can't beat them you are not winning World Cups."