England v Lithuania Match Preview and Betting Tips
March 22, 2017
Sunday 26 March – Wembley Stadium – World Cup Qualifier
England have never lost to Lithuania and will enter this World Cup 2018 qualifier as heavy favourites to take three points. However, the away side’s development is evident with more squad members playing for top flight European clubs and will not simply roll over.
England and Lithuania have only met twice, and both fixtures were recent as they were also pitted in the same qualifying group for EURO 2016. The Three Lions won home and away, 4-0 and 3-0 respectively.
The big news from the home camp is the omission of leader and captain Wayne Rooney, which becomes an increasingly confusing decision considering England’s three forward options. Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford are looking increasingly like one season wonders and Jermain Defoe, now 34, attracts doubts over his ability to handle international duty while in a relegation scrap with club Sunderland.
Nevertheless, keep an eye out for starlets Michael Keane, Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse, who will all be eager to feature in Russia next year.
With many young players chosen for this round of qualifiers, the away side will be out to soak up experience. However, with five points from four games, Lithuania still hold a chance of qualification and three points against the group leaders would be an ideal kick start. Keep a look-out for the Juventus-owned Vykintas Slivka and ADO Den Haag’s Ernestas Setkus.
England vs Lithuania Preview and Predictions
After dominating both fixtures in qualifying for EURO 2016, it is hard to see anything else than an England win, and their betting odds suggest the same with victory priced at 1/8. Gareth Southgate’s men have a habit of struggling against lesser opposition and find it hard to break through deep lying defences, but with new more vibrant squad members included, a new approach could change things.
Southgate’s 4-2-3-1 system fits most of the home sides’ key players in, and expect a high press as they do not have possession-based players and there will be no need to sit back and counter.
Lithuania coach Edgaras Jankauskas will be familiar to Hearts fans and even won the Champions League as a player with Porto in 2004. The former Trakai coach also favours a 4-2-3-1 shape, but is also known to revert to a 4-5-1, which will be likely in this case. Expect Lithuania to sit back and play for a draw, and move to damage limitation if that doesn’t work out, as goal difference can often make a difference in qualification, even if their qualification odds are priced at 1000/1 with Bet365. They’re also 40/1 outsiders here, with the draw at 8/1.
Goal difference could also provide motivation for England to go all-out attack. The Three Lions are at odds of 12/5 to win by four or more goals, but a three goal margin appears to be the most likely.
Jermain Defoe to score first at 19/5
Defoe may be in the twilight of his career, but the Sunderland man is England’s most in-form option and the obvious replacement for the injured Harry Kane. He has a point to prove and Lithuania are the perfect opportunity.
England to win by three or more goals at 21/20
Lithuania are fast and physical but their gaping lack of experience at a high level will always count against them when facing tough competition. England aren’t the kind of side that will blow opponents away, but a three goal margin of victory seems likely.