2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Lithuania vs Northern Ireland

Lithuania welcome Northern Ireland to LFF Stadium, Vilnius, as both teams look to kick-start their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying bids in Group C following slow starts. 

Victory would see Lithuania leapfrog Northern Ireland and go third if Bulgaria fail to beat Italy elsewhere, whereas Northern Ireland can consolidate third with a win and climb to within two points of second-placed Switzerland.

 

Team News

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Lithuania have no fresh injury concerns despite Saulius Mikoliunas being dropped from the preliminary squad.

Northern Ireland could be without Corry Evans due to a hamstring strain so has called up Tom Flanagan and Liam Donnelly to join the senior squad, alongside Alfie McCalmont who has been promoted from the Under-21 squad.

Manager, Ian Baraclough will be without Jonny Evans and Josh Magennis after the pair withdrew with respective foot and hip injuries.

 

Stat Attack

  • Lithuania are winless in two previous World Cup Qualifiers against Northern Ireland (D1, L1).
  • Northern Ireland won their only previous away visit to Lithuania 1-0 in May 1993, with Iain Dowie netting a ninth minute winner.
  • Lithuania have scored twice in two of their last five home matches in all competitions (W1, D2, L2).
  • Northern Ireland have won just one of their last seven away trips in all competitions (W1, D2, L4).

 

Prediction

Having endured a disastrous 2021 so far with just one goal scored and 15 goals conceded in six defeats across all competitions, Lithuania definitely need to show improvement here because if not then they can totally forget their chances of qualification.

Northern Ireland meanwhile have defensively struggled despite all of their attacking quality under Ian Baraclough, as evidenced by their shambolic form worthy of a lost dressing room but they have shown progress recently with two clean sheets in their last three matches plus a narrow friendly loss to Ukraine.

Baraclough’s Norn Iron therefore needs to continue building on their improvement because this is their easiest opposition on paper in ages, yet they cannot underestimate Lithuania but they should win this if can turn up and deliver a strong performance.

Prediction: Lithuania 0-2 Northern Ireland

Result: Lithuania 1-4 Northern Ireland

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