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?Portugal vs. Lithuania Preview & line-ups: UEFA European Qualifiers

Wednesday13 November 2019 | 8:18
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Portugal host Lithuania on Thursday evening as they hope to finish in an automatic qualification spot in Group B of Euro 2020 Qualifying.

Competition:

EURO Qualification

Date: Thursday, 14 November 2019

<span style="font-family:times new roman,serif; font-size:12.0pt">

Thursday

Time: 19:45 UK / 20:45 CET

Venue: Estádio Algarve (Faro/Loulé).

Portugal

are currently second in their group but are just a point ahead of Serbia with two games left to play.

Portugal

are hosting

Lithuania

, who are bottom of the group and have just one point from their seven games so far, scoring just five times in that run.

With second-bottom Luxembourg to come in their final fixture,

Portugal

may feel confident of picking up maximum points and finishing second in Group B.

Lithuania

, on the other hand, have nothing to play for in the group, sitting bottom on one point with just this final fixture to complete.

Portugal

blew their chances of finishing top of the group when they lost 2-1 to Ukraine in their last game, handing their opponents an unassailable eight-point gap on the chasing pack.

It was the first loss of

Portugal

's qualifying campaign but it was a significant one, allowing Serbia to move within a point of them and keep the pressure on heading into the final round of fixtures.

However, with second-bottom Luxembourg to follow after

Lithuania

, Fernando Santos’ side

will feel confident of picking up maximum points from their final two games and assuring themselves of a spot at Euro 2020.

The last time these two sides met, Ronaldo hit four in a 5-1 win, scoring half of his nation's 14 qualifying goals so far in this campaign.

Lithuania

, whose sole point in the group came at home in a 1-1 draw against a similarly struggling Luxembourg side, will not relish the prospect of facing the Juventus forward for a second time - and in

Portugal

.

The Group B minnows have shipped a whopping 19 goals in just seven games, scoring just five in that period.

Out:

Nelson Semedo (muscle), Andre Gomes (ankle), Joao Mario (toe), Goncalo Guedes (ankle), Joao Felix (ankle)

With five members of the last

Portugal

squad missing, Santos is going to have to make some changes to the starting lineup that were beaten 2-1 away from home by group leaders Ukraine.

However, Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Rui Patricio is fit and will be expected to start in between the sticks against Lithuania.

Benfica defender Ruben Dias is likely to retain his place ahead of him at the heart of the defense, as is Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro at left-back. With Semedo out, Leicester City right-back Ricardo Periera looks likely to replace him, while one veteran defender could replace another, with Jose Fonte coming in for Pepe alongside Dias.

Given the nature of the fixture, the more defensive-minded Danilo Pereira could drop out for Ruben Neves, who could partner club team-mate Joao Moutinho in midfield. Ahead of them, Bernardo Silva should keep his place on the right, while Bruno Fernandes could play as a tucked-in option on the left flank in place of Guedes.

Ronaldo

will undoubtedly start in attack if he is fit, while Mario could be replaced with an extra striker as

Portugal

go for goals, with Andre Silva in line to partner to the Juventus star upfront.

Lithuania

were not even able to take advantage of the Nations League pathway by failing to win their group, instead of finishing bottom, losing each of their six games in the competition and suffering relegation to League D.

Instead, Serbia took advantage and they, as well as Ukraine and

Portugal

, would be guaranteed a play-off place were they to finish outside the two automatic qualification spots.

Portugal

boss Santos was unable to call up a number of players for this round of international qualifying games.

Forward pair Goncalo Guedes and Joao Felix are both out with ankle injuries suffered with their respective

La Liga

clubs.

Everton midfielder Andre Gomes suffered a horror ankle injury and is now a long-term absentee, with his return a long way off at present.

Fellow midfielder Joao Mario is also sidelined, along with Barcelona right-back Nelson Semedo.

All five players were in the last squad, with Guedes, Mario, and Semedo all starting in the defeat to Ukraine.

Key Information:

·        

A 2-1 defeat in Ukraine last time out means Portugal can no longer finish top of Group B, but a victory here coupled with Serbia dropping points would confirm second place.

·        

With Joao Felix injured, Goncalo Paciencia has been called up to the squad alongside his Eintracht Frankfurt teammate Andre Silva and will be hoping to add to his solitary cap in 2017.

·        

Fellow strikers Eder and Diogo Jota are also back in the squad but Nelson Semedo has pulled out after suffering an injury at the weekend, so in-form Leicester right-back Ricardo Pereira could make his first appearance since last year's World Cup.

·        

Lithuania have taken just one point from seven matches in this campaign and have lost nine of their last 11 European qualifiers away from home.

·        

Coach Valdas Urbonas has made four changes to his squad with goalkeeper Emilijus Zubas, midfielders Mantas Kuklys and Vykintas Slivka, and Captain Fedor Chernykh returning after injury.

·        

Winger Arvydas Novikovas is set to return to the side after serving a suspension against Serbia and is likely to take the place of Ovidijus Verbickas, who is out injured.

Head to head result:

·        

These two teams have met three times, with Thursday’s game being the first meeting on Portuguese soil since 2004.

·        

Portugal

have won all three previous games with ease, scoring 14 and conceding just three.

·        

Back in September,

Cristiano Ronaldo

scored four times in a 5-1 Portuguese win in Vilnius.

·        

Two of the three matches have ended in 5-1 wins for

Portugal

, with the other being a 4-1 triumph.

Possible starting lineup:

Portugal XI (4-3-3):

Rui Patricio; Ricardo Pereira, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro; Danilo Pereira, Joao Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes; Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruma

Unavailable:

William Carvalho (Injured), Nelson Semedo (Injured), Andre Gomes (Injured), Joao Felix (Injured), Goncalo Guedes (Injured)

Lithuania XI (4-1-4-1):

Setkus; Baravykas, Klimavicius, Girdvainis, Mikoliunas; Simkus; Chernykh, Vorobjovas, Kuklys, Novikovas; D. Matulevicius

Unavailable:

 Verbickas (Injured)


source: SportMob