Merse's Euro picks

Each day this week a member of the Soccer Saturday team will make their Euro 2012 predictions. Today it's Paul Merson's turn...

Merson: England's defence is their strongest suit

Germany: one of the main contenders

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I don't see the Euros being a great, open free-flowing football competition.

"The first games will be vital; if you lose that you're not far from going home. That's why I'm worried about England's first game because France are my dark horses to win it."

Paul Merson

Quotes of the week

There won't be much between the teams and I think it will be very tight. There's a bunch of teams that can win the competition and I think we'll see close games and not loads and loads of goals.

It's just as hard as a World Cup. The only two teams that aren't in the Euros that could win the World Cup are Brazil and Argentina. You'd have to say the favourites are Spain and Germany, but you can't sit here and say someone is definitely going to win it.

Even in the group stages there are no gimmes. Nobody is going to walk through their group like they do in the World Cup. Germany are second favourites, but they're not even certain to get to the quarter-finals!

The first games will be vital; if you lose that you're not far from going home. That's why I'm worried about England's first game because France are my dark horses to win it. If they lose that they will be up against it.

Saying that, if England can get out of the group then I think they have a great chance because in knock-out football you don't have to win a football match. Chelsea proved that in the Champions League.

If England get to the quarter-finals then they could go all the way!

Who's going to win the tournament?

If I had to pick one team I would probably go for Germany. They're a competition team, they've been together a long time (there are a lot of players left from the last World Cup) and Mario Gomez is a great striker. I know he had a shocker in the Champions League final but if he keeps getting in those positions he won't be far off being top scorer.

Who will pose the biggest threat to them?

I'm not sure about Spain. I think people are getting used to playing against them now. They've got injuries to Carles Puyol and David Villa and Fernando Torres isn't in unbelievable form. For me the biggest threat is France. To win this competition you need a world-class centre-forward - and they have that in Karim Benzema. You also need world-class players to provide him and they have that in people like Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery. I see them being a massive force.

Who will be the surprise package of the tournament?

I'll say England. Nobody expects them to win it, but this will be a tight tournament and defensively England are as good as anybody. They'll set up to be difficult to beat. In a free-flowing competition England wouldn't have a chance, but in a tight tournament the defence - and the midfield as a defensive unit - can compete with anyone.

Who will win the Golden Boot?

Karim Benzema. He's a world-class forward, but you're only as good as the people providing you - and he will have a lot of ammunition provided for him. There's a lot of talented footballers who will be able to find him.

Who's your player to watch?

It's all about Benzema for me. I think he'll be a massive success. He's top-drawer, he's had a good season at Real Madrid , he's strong, he's quick and he scores goals. You need somebody like that to win a tournament.

How far will England go?

The group will be hard for them because they'll have to score goals and win some games. But if they get to the knock-out stages then they don't have to go out and win; they can play like Chelsea did in the Champions League this year. I'm not sure we'll get out of the group, but if we do then I would suddenly fancy us then!

Who will be England's star man?

I'm going to say Steven Gerrard. In a tight competition he is the one who can put the ball through the eye of a needle. France have four or five players like that, but we haven't, especially with Wayne Rooney out for the first two games.