Portugal will be looking for their second win of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, when they take on Group B bottom feeders Lithuania on Tuesday night.
Having gotten their first win of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers last time out, Portugal will be aiming to bag another victory when they travel to Vilnius to face off against Lithuania at the LFF Stadium on Tuesday.
Portugal come into the game on the back of a 4-2 win against Serbia in Belgrade, which propelled them to the second place in Group B. Currently on five points from three matches (W1 D2), the Seleccao are eight points below leaders Ukraine and will be aiming to reduce the gap by picking up their second win in three days to end the international break on a high.
Lithuania, on the other hand, find themselves rooted to the bottom of Group B, having managed to pick up just a solitary point from their four matches so far. Their latest fixture on Saturday ended in a 3-0 defeat to Ukraine at home. While it will be difficult for Valdas Urbonas’ side to get a positive result against Portugal, they will be hoping to put up a fight to try and salvage a point at least.
Ahead of the latest Group B encounter of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both Portugal and Lithuania;
Team News & Tactics
Arvydas Novikovas, Vaidas Slavickas, Justinas Marazas, Karolis Chvedukas are all ruled out with injuries for the Lithuania. Nerijus Valskis, who plays for Indian club Chennaiyin FC, has not been called up by manager Urbonas, while Mantas Kuklys and Arturas Zulpa have been added to the squad, after not being involved in the previous set of qualifiers in June.
The manager has tinkered between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-1-4-1 formation recently and is likely to go in with the former setup in order to stem the influence of Portugal’s creative midfielders like Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes.
Emilijus Zubas should continue between the sticks for the Baltic nation. Midfielder Modestas Vorobjovas started in an unnatural position at right-back in the last game, but veteran Saulius Mikoliunas, who started at left-back, is likely to move into that position, with Vytautas Andriuskevicius coming in at left-back. Markus Palionis and Linas Klimavicius are likely to start at the heart of the defence, with Edvinas Girdvainis dropping out.
Vorobjovas should slot in his regular position in the middle of the park, occupying one of the two pivot positions. Vykintas Slivka is likely to come into the starting XI alongside Vorobjovas, with Zulpa dropping out of the side. The duo will have the important task of stopping the Portuguese midfielder from providing meaningful service to captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
20-year-old Paulius Golubickas should slot in as the attacking midfielder and look to provide the home team with some drive and incision in the final third. Ovidijus Verbickas is likely to continue on the left flank, while Deimantas Petravicius should get the nod on the right side. Captain Fedor Cernych, who is the all-time fourth-highest goalscorer for Lithuania, should spearhead the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Zubas; Mikoliunas, Klimavicius, Palionis, Andriuskevicius; Vorobjovas, Slivka; Petravicius, Golubickas, Verbickas; Cernych
Portugal are without some of the big names like Andre Gomes, Andre Silva, Joao Mario, while seasoned defender Pepe is ruled out with an injury. Nelson Semedo picked up an ankle injury in the game against Serbia and is unlikely to be involved on Tuesday night.
Fernando Santos has opted to use the 4-3-3 formation in recent matches and is likely to stick with a similar setup against Lithuania in Vilnius. Veteran keeper Rui Patricio is a certain starter between the sticks for the reigning European champions.
Joao Cancelo is likely to step into the team for the injured Semedo at right-back. No other changes are expected in the backline with Jose Fonte and Ruben Dias starting as the two centre-backs while Raphael Guerreiro slots in as the left-back. The full-backs will be key in providing the width going forward for Santos’ side.
Ruben Neves is likely to get a nod as the deepest of the three midfielders for Portugal on Tuesday, with Danilo Pereira expected to make way for the Wolves superstar. William Carvalho should keep hold of his spot and provide the box-to-box presence for the visitors while Bruno Fernandes will act as the creative outlet from the centre.
Bernardo Silva ought to start on the right flank, although the Manchester City is likely to drop into the hole behind the striker at every given opportunity and dictate play. Goncalo Guedes could make way for teenager Joao Felix on the left side. The youngster will be encouraged to drift into a central position and play alongside captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Patricio; Cancelo, Fonte, Dias, Guerreiro; Carvalho, Neves, Fernandes; Silva, Ronaldo, Felix
- Portugal and Lithuania have faced each other only on two occasions previously. Seleccao have won both the games, scoring nine goals while letting in just two.
- The last time these two teams battled each other was way back in June 2004 in an international friendly. Cristiano Ronaldo made an appearance as a substitute in the game.
- Lithuania are on a 11-game winless run dating back to July last year when they defeated Sri Lanka in a friendly encounter (D2 L9). They have managed just one clean sheet in these 11 matches.
- Since their Round of 16 exit in the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the hands of Uruguay, Portugal haven’t lost even one of their eleven matches, winning six of those.
- Cristiano Ronaldo is the most-capped Portuguese player with 159 international appearances and is also their all-time leading goalscorer with 89 goals to his name.
Player to Watch
Bernardo Silva scored his fourth goal for Portugal on Saturday against Serbia, in what was his 39th appearance. The 25-year-old also got an assist on the night, setting up Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal. Silva is a highly influential player for the Seleccao and against a Lithuanian side that is likely to sit deep and defend, his vision and creativity could be the key for the visitors to bag all three points.
Lithuania 0-3 Portugal
Lithuania have not won a single of their four matches in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, scoring just three goals in the process, while letting in ten. They should be no match for a Portugal side that oozes quality across all areas of the pitch. We at The Hard Tackle are predicting an easy win for Cristiano Ronaldo & co. in Vilnius on Tuesday.