WC 2018 qualifier preview: Scotland v Lithuania – 1st September – LFF Stadium, Vilnius
Having failed to qualify for Euro 2016, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is under huge pressure to produce results in the WC 2018 qualifiers. The Scots are currently placed at 4th in the Group F cluster with 8 points and a clean 3 points behind 3rd placed Slovenia. So their Friday’s away clash against Lithuania at the LFF Stadium in Vilnius is nothing short of a must-win game. Stratchan has already started on bad note opting out 5 potential players from his 25-man squad, key among them being Celtic full-back Callum McGregor and wingers Ryan Christie of Aberdeen and Oliver Burke of Red Bull Leipzig. He has handed out recalls to Newcastle defender Grant Hanley and winger Matt Ritchie from the same club. The pair had been dropped in Scotland’s 2-2 draw against England in June but have been surprisingly included for the vital Lithuania clash. Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday striker), Matt Phillips (West Brom winger) and Steven Whittaker (Hibernian right back) are some of the other inclusions. Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer has moved to take the place of the injured David Marshall. Leigh Griffiths, who scored the sensational late goals to equalize against England will be expected to produce an encore at Vilnuis on Friday. Stuart Armstrong of Celtic and Rober Snodgrass of West Ham United will are the other two strikers mostly likely to find a place in the starting XI in the Lithuania clash.
For Lithuania Hibernian striker Deivydas Matulevicius and midfielder Vykintas Slivka are likely to feature in Friday night night’s game. Bnei Yehuda striker Nerijus Valskis is not likely to be fit for the clash against Scotland, but Trakai midfielder Vaidotas Silenas and Zalgiris Vilnius defender Egidijus Vaitkunas are likely to feature.
Lithuania are in the 5th spot in the Group F cluster with just 5 points, but had proved difficult opponents to the Scots when they had visited Hampten Park, Glasgowin October last. The Lithuanians had held Scotland to a 1-1 draw then and would look to improve on that score line when they receive Gordon Strachan’s men on Friday.
Lithuania’s only win from their six Group games has come against Malta in a 2-0 win at home at Vilnius.The odds to win Friday’s WC 2018 qualifier at Vilnuis are in favour of the Scots at 4/5 and 7/2 for the Lithuanians and for a draw at 13/5, which could be a probable result.
Recommended Tip: Scotland to WIN, Best Odds 4/5