Verdict: England -2
Best Odds: 20/21
England face Lithuania on Sunday evening in a crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier at Wembley. The Three Lions will be hoping to extend their two point gap at the top of the table whilst their rivals will be optimistic of a huge upset. Both teams will pay tribute to the victims of Wednesday afternoon’s terror attacks in London before kick-off.
England were unlucky to lose against Germany 1-0 Wednesday in a match they were always competing in despite fielding a weakened team. As it happens, Gareth Southgate’s men were defeated for the first time in five games with former Arsenal man Lucas Podolski grabbing the winner to mark a great send-off to his international career. Prior to the loss in Dortmund, England had gained 10 points from four matches in a group which should be relatively straight forward to progress from on paper. The Three Lions are two points above second-placed Slovenia who face Scotland at Hampden Park on Sunday night. England fans will be wondering whether Southgate will opt to stick with the 3-4-3 formation trailed out on Wednesday which offered great width in decent attacking areas for Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrandt. Jamie Vardy was given the role as main striker against the Germans with Delli Alli and Adam Lallana supporting. With this attacking fluency, England should have too much for Lithuania and further cement their lead at the top of Group F.
Defender Gary Cahill will miss the match through suspension, whilst Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will also be out due to injury. Harry Kane remains a long-term absentee.
Michael Keane could make his first competitive start in an England shirt after impressing against Germany.
Lithuania have enjoyed a relatively steady start to their qualifying group and are currently sitting in fourth place, just three points behind Slovenia in second. Solid draws against Slovakia and Scotland were followed up by a 2-0 against group minnows Malta. However, they have lost twice since then, most recently 3-0 away at Czech Republic on Wednesday night in a friendly. Their record on the road has been pretty abysmal and they are currently winless in 14, having lost ten of those matches. Lithuania’s only chance of scoring may rest with Russian-born Fedor Cernych who has scored 12 times with Jagiellonia Bialystok in the Polish Ekstraklasa this season and three times already in Group F. Edgaras Jankauskas’s men’s best chances will probably lie with keeping all eleven men in their own half and ensuring England find it hard to break them down. Lithuania have a few injury problems and that will further damage their chances of any result at Wembley.
Edwin Girdvainis is injured. Vytautas Andriuskevicus misses out due to a thigh problem.
Meanwhile, George Freidgeimas is suspended.
Key Factors To Consider
- England haven’t lost a qualification match since October 2009 when they were defeated away at Ukraine
- England have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six competitive matches
- Only one of England’s last 16 games at Wembley have ended in defeat, against Netherlands 2-1 in 2016
- Fiodor Cernych has scored in three of Lithuania’s qualification matches and all have been the first goal of the game
- Lithuania haven’t won any of their last six away qualification matches
England will be too good for Lithuania at Wembley. Their qualification record is absolutely phenomenal compared to their oppositions dreadful away run. Gareth Southgate’s men will be optimistic of carrying their good performance against Germany into this game and Lithuania will do well to keep the score below 2-0. A routine win for England.
Verdict: England -2
Best Odds: 20/21
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