Scotland know that anything less than victory against Lithuania on Friday night will effectively end their dreams of participation at next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Gordon Strachan’s side seemed to be heading for a lifeless 1-0 defeat against England at Hampden Park back in June before Leigh Griffiths fired two late free-kicks beyond Joe Hart to give Scotland the lead. There was to be a dramatic late twist, however, as Harry Kane grabbed a last-gasp leveller for Gareth Southgate’s side to sicken the Scots.
When the dust had settled on a dramatic match against the Auld Enemy, Scotland were left with the feeling that a tally of just eight points from their first six matches may well see them come up short in qualification for a major tournament once again.
Victory against both Lithuania and Malta in this month’s double header, then, is absolutely necessary if the Strachan’s men are to keep their slender dreams alive.
Scotland will be desperate to take the first step towards achieving that objective by bagging a vital victory in Vilnius, and Genting make the visitors their 17/20 (1.85) favourites to pick up all three points.
The visitors do have a reasonably strong record against Lithuania, having lost just one of the nine meetings between the nations, but Edgaras Jankauskas’ side deserved a draw from the most recent renewal between the teams at Hampden Park back in October and, as such, Friday’s hosts will fancy their chances of claiming a famous victory on this occasion.
Matches between these nations have been tight in recent years and, indeed, the margin of victory has only been more than a single goal in one of the last seven meetings between the teams – a 3-1 victory for the Scots in Glasgow 10 years ago.
Furthermore, each of the last three matches between the teams has featured fewer than three goals, while the Scots have failed to find the net in three of their previous four games on Lithuanian soil.
The Scots have failed to find the net in four of their last five matches on the road – scoring only in the 5-1 win Malta in their opening Group F game - while Jankauskas’ men have failed to find the net in three of their last four fixtures.
Another tight tussle, therefore, seems likely and there could be value in backing fewer than two goals to be scored at a generous 6/4 (2.50) ahead of Friday’s clash in the Lithuanian capital.
|Under 1.5 goals at 6/4 (2.50) for a 1pt stake with Genting|