Can England Increase the Gap at the Top of Group F?

Last updated: March 24, 2017 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Sunday, 5.00pm
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Coverage: ITV
Home form: WWDWDL
Away form: DDDWLL
Last Meeting: Lithuania 0 – 3 England
Competition: Euro 2016 Qualifying

England qualifying campaigns tend to be somewhat unreliable indicators of what to expect come the summer. As the Three Lions sit comfortably at the top of Group F, it’s easy to feel a sense of Déjà vu. Aside from an uneventful 0-0 in Slovenia back in October last year, England have coasted at Wembley so far – scoring five and conceding zero. The visitors were thumped 4-0 in Slovakia last time out, and will not be expecting to get a lot of joy in the capital on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate’s side come into this off the back on a 1-0 defeat to Germany in Dortmund on Wednesday. The Germans used the game to give Lukas Podolski his big send-off. The former Arsenal striker settled the game with a thunderous strike in the second-half before calling time on a tremendous international career. England, on the other hand, took the opportunity to experiment with a 3-4-3 formation inspired by Conte’s Chelsea – runaway leaders of the English Premier League. Southgate will have been pleased with the way his new shape played out. England dominated possession for large parts of the game and there was certainly enough shown to justify persisting with a three-man defence on Sunday. The absence of Cahill, though, may force the England manager to revert to more traditional four-man defence.

Jamie Vardy led the attack against Germany but the Leicester forward’s effectiveness against a team that is likely to sit deep may tempt Southgate to consider his options. Manchester United’s Marcus Rushford or 34-year-old Jermaine Defoe would be the most obvious replacements. The teams will pay tribute to the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack on Westminster Abbey in London before the match, the FA have confirmed.

Team News

Gary Cahill is suspended for the qualifier and will not play, potentially forcing Southgate to switch his back three to a back four.

West Ham United’s Michail Antonio and Manchester United’s Phil Jones have both withdrawn from the squad due to injury.

In midfield, a few surprise selections in the shape of James Ward-Prowse and Jake Livermore gives the England boss options.

For Lithuania, key absentees include Edwin Girdvainis (injury), George Freidgeimas (suspended) and Vytautas Andriuskevicius.

Expected line-ups:

England (4-3-3): Hart, Walker, Smalling, Stones, Bertrand, Dier, Alli, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling, Rashford
Subs: Forster, Barkley, Lingard, Livermore, Ward-Prowse, Defoe, Shaw
Injured: Kane, Rooney, Walcott
Not available: Cahill
Lithuania (4-4-2): Setkus, Borovik, Vaitkunas, Klimavicius, Slivka, Kuklys, Zulpa, Novikov, Valskis, Chernykh, Matulevicius
Subs: Gertmonas, Baravykas, Jankauskas, Sernas, Kuklys, Mikuckis, Paulius
Injured: Girdvainis
Not available: Freidgeimas

So far this season

. . .
England this Campaign Lithuania this Campaign
1st Qualifying Position 4th
3 (1) (at home) Wins (away) 1 (0)
3-0 vs. Scotland Biggest win 2-0 vs. Malta
1 (1) (at home) Draws (away) 2 (1)
Unbeaten Biggest Defeat 4-0 vs. Slovakia
Lallana (2) Sturridge (2) Top Goal Scorer Černych (3)
Y7, R0 Discipline Y6, R0
1 Failures to score 2
4 Clean Sheets 1
0 Both Teams to Score Games 2
3 Over 2.5 Goals 2
1 Under 2.5 Goals 2
  • England have an excellent record in qualifying, especially at Wembley. It’s difficult to look past a home win here, but don’t expect a great price for it.
  • The visitors have won just one in their last six and arrive at Wembley off the back of a midweek 3-0 defeat to the Czech Republic.
  • It will be interesting to see if Jermaine Defoe gets a runout. The Sunderland striker has scored 14 goals for the Premier League’s bottom side this season. He hasn’t played for England since 2013.
  • The away side are likely to play in a 4-4-2 formation but could switch to a five-man midfield against England on Sunday. Either way, it will be two organised banks sitting relatively deep.

Head to Head

Last 2 meetings between the two sides
Date Competition Game Result First Goal-scorer
27/03/2015 Euro 2016 Qualifying England 4 – 0 Lithuania Rooney 7′
12/10/2015 Euro 2016 Qualifying Lithuania 0 – 3 England Barkley 29′

Conclusion & Betting Tips

It’s always tough to find value in the betting markets when there is such a clear favourite and with England priced a 1/9 for the outright win, you may have to dig deeper to find something worth a punt. England to win with an over 3.5 goals market at 6/5 is not a bad shout given that this England squad is packed with players looking to prove a point. Lithuania plus the draw is available at 6/1 for the pessimists, but that price is a little low for us.

England won both the only two previous meetings between the sides, 4-0 at home and 3-0 away, during the Euro 2016 qualifiers in 2015. The hosts are also yet to concede a goal at Wembley during this qualifying campaign. Backing England to win to nil at 1/2 is a safe option, but our tip for the weekend is Southgate’s men to win both halves at 10/11 with Bet365.