Lithuania v Scotland
Live on Sky Sports
Last chance saloon for Strachan and his boys
Scotland travel to the LFF Stadionas for a must-win tie vs Lithuania on Friday night. In fact, every Group F tie between now and the conclusion of the World Cup qualifying campaign is a must-win if the Scots are to avoid missing out on another major tournament.
France 98, the last time Scottish football was showcased on the big stage. That's almost two decades of hurt. A generation of Tartan Army members who have never witnessed the thrill of watching their heroes mix it with the sport's elite, and a generation of talented players who found they weren't good enough.
Gordon Strachan's men face a unique situation. Struggling to qualify is nothing new to Scotland players, but this group are seeing fans run out of patience. The usually loyal to the end Tartan Army, who pack out Hampden and travel in their numbers, have now decided enough is enough. They want value for money. Enough of the glorious failure, enough of the points dropped to lesser nations and enough of watching on as the rest of the home nations make progress, while a once proud footballing nation stands still.
Is Strachan the man to deliver? Those in the stands aren't convinced. They booed Chris Martin on to the pitch back in March, and it didn't matter to anyone that he scored the winner in a scrappy 1-0 vs Slovenia. It only made matters worse than the same team pushed England all the way at Hampden back in June, denied three crucial points by a stoppage-time Harry Kane equaliser.
Lithuania is the last chance saloon for Gordon and his boys, and don't they just know it. Assistant manager Mark McGhee issued a rallying call in the press this week, telling players they can't afford any more mistakes. Matt Ritchie assured everyone the squad know what they have to do. OK, so they can talk the talk - we need actions.
Stats make Lithuania hard to beat at home
Lithuania have little, if any, chance of qualifying themselves, going into the weekend nine points off leaders England, seven behind second-place Slovakia. They've lost each of their last three starts, meaning only Malta are beneath them in the pecking order.
You'd think, going in on the back of a three-game losing streak, the hosts may want to keep their heads down. That's not been the case, they've had plenty to say for themselves in the build-up, Hibs employee Vykintas Slivka warning Scotland his team are getting better. They have every right to fancy themselves here too, taking heart from past meetings.
They left Hampden with a draw in October of last year - one of the mistakes McGhee was talking about - Fedor Cernych scoring an opener that was later cancelled out by James McArthur. They also forced a 0-0 when last hosting back in 2010, and have only ever lost once at home vs Scotland. They're a tough nut to crack on their own patch, and will be more than willing to prove it again.
Punters supporting Scots, despite form
Despite that patchy form in this part of the world, the betting has Scotland as odds-on favourites to get the desired result, with the sportsbook currently offering an away win at 3/4, while there's 1.82 on the exchange. Do they deserve to be? Well, probably, but that's down to just how much this means to both sides. Scotland need to win, it's all or nothing here. Lithuania just fancy it.
There's plenty of reason to smile if you're a fan of the upset, however. Lithuania are available at 5.80 on the exchange or 4/1 (sportsbook). Not a bad price if you fancy sitting in front of the TV and hoping for yet another famous Scotland collapse.
Whether you decide to bet with your head or your heart on this one, the draw demands our respect. The stats say so, as do we. Of the nine previous meetings between Lithuania and Scotland, three have ended all-square. That includes two of the last three, with the spare in that trio a narrow 1-0 Scotland win. Pick the points to be shared and you'll get 12/5 when getting your money down on the sportsbook, or 3.50 if chancing the exchange.
It'll be all tight on the night
This Scottish side haven't been blessed with goals, and we're not sure Strachan knows yet who is best striker is, or if he even has one. They've only scored nine so far, but conceded 10. That stat alone sums up what it's like to follow the blues.
They got two against England last time, but both came from free-kicks. The goal before, Martin's winner vs Slovenia, arrived in the 88th minute, and they could've played all night at Wembley and not got near Joe Hart.
On the other side, Lithuania have managed only three in their six outings. Backing under 2.5 goals would've banked you a winner in six of the previous nine matches between these sides, meaning the same again looks worth a punt. Under 2.5 goals in the game is 1.63, or this one bucking the trend and giving over 2.5 is 2.42.
Under 2.5 goals @ 1.63
Scotland 1-0 correct score @ 6.00
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