Following back-to-back defeats to Scotland and England, Malta takes on Lithuania at the LFF Stadionas in Vilnius on Tuesday, kick-off at 20:45, in a match from Group 1 of the European Qualifiers leading to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Malta hopes to collect its first point in Group 1 but this will be no easy task considering that Lithuania already earned two points in a home 2-2 draw with Slovenia and a 1-1 draw with Scotland at Hampden Park where the hosts only notched the equaliser one minute from time.
Coach Pietro Ghedin must definitely change plans after adopting an ultra-defensive approach against England on Saturday. A plan which may have helped the team in a damage-limiting exercise against England but which only led to just one shot at goal throughout the whole ninety minutes where Andrei Agius had a first-time effort neutralised by goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Ghedin will make at least one change to the team which faced England as Alex Muscat withdrew from the squad following the birth of his second child on Saturday. However Jonathan Caruana will be back after serving a one-match ban.
Andrew Hogg starts in goal with Jonathan Caruana joining Andrei Agius and probably Zach Muscat as central defenders, should Ghedin opt to leave Steve Borg on the right flank. Joseph Zerafa and Clayton Failla will fight for a place on the left flank. There should be no changes in midfield with Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras and Bjorn Kristensen set for a place in the starting line-up with Andre Schembri supporting Alfred Effiong in attack.
This will be the fourth clash between Malta and Lithuania but the first one at competitive level and the first one on Lithuanian soil. The first meeting goes back to February 2002 when Malta and Lithuania drew 1-1 in a match from the Rothmans Tournament. In a friendly match in November 2006, Lithuania registered a 4-1 win at the Hibs Ground while in June 2015, Malta beat Lithuania 2-0 thanks to goals by Paul Fenech and Alfred Effiong.[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”random” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”23″]