COURTESYFOOTBALL FORM LABS
England v Lithuania - Sunday 17:00, ITV
Wednesday’s friendly against Germany saw Gareth Southgate suffer his first defeat as England manager, but this will not be of too much concern to the Three Lions: they were the better side for much of the evening, and it took a screamer from Lukas Podolski in his final international appearance to separate the two sides. This Sunday they take on Lithuania at Wembley in what should be a straightforward game for England.
One reason that England can afford to come into this with some confidence is Lithuania’s appalling away form. The visitors are without a win in 14 on the road, failing to score in 11 of these and suffering heavy defeats to nil at the hands of Russia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and England themselves, with each of these defeats by more than two goals.
They are coming up against an England side that has been excellent at home: they’ve won 11 consecutive home qualifiers while conceding just twice and scoring 36 times. Our rankings put Lithuania 97th in the world, and England have won each of their last 10 home qualifiers to sides outside the world’s top 50, keeping a clean sheet in nine of these and, furthermore, they’ve conceded just twice in their last 22 such matches and won by at least three clear goals in 10 of the last 15.
With all this in mind, it’s hard to see how Lithuania can avoid a heavy defeat at Wembley on Sunday. Particularly with most of their players lacking match fitness due to playing in leagues with long winter breaks and with important striker Sernas getting injured last week. We’ll back England to cover the -2 handicap.
Best bet: Asian Handicap England -2.5 at 2.09
Weekend Team News Analysis
Central Coast v Adelaide
Marcelo Carrusca (AM), Adelaide
Carrusca has missed 16 games since the start of last season and Adelaide have gone a woeful W1-D6-L9 without him as they’ve scored less than a goal per game. In contrast they’ve won half of their 24 matches with him while scoring an extra half a goal per game. In this battle of the bottom two we'll take Central Coast at 2.88 to take advantage of Carrusca's absence and replicate their win from when these teams met here last month.
Brisbane v Melbourne Victory
James Troisi (AM), Marco Rojas (RW) and Besart Berisha (FW), Melbourne Victory
Victory are without three key players as their three leading scorers are all missing. In fact of the 46 goals they’ve scored all season the players they have available scored just seven of them while those available provided just five of 22 assists. Brisbane might be out of form but there's little to motivate Victory here and we should see a home win, but with Victory's absences the win to nil at 4.05 looks the best bet.
Coventry v Bristol Rovers
Ryan Sweeney (CB), Peter Hartley (CB), Bristol Rovers
Rovers are definitely without the above pair and also Jake Clarke-Salter, while fellow centre-backs Tom Lockyer and James Clarke could also be missing. That would mean a major shortage in the heart of defence and while Rovers lost 3-1 in their first match after Sweeney joined in January – which the Stoke loanee missed – they’ve lost just one of 11 matches with him in the team since. Coventry are doomed but are not quite as bad as their position suggests and won last time out. Their players will be keen to impress new boss Mark Robins and Rovers away form is also quite poor so we fancy a home win at 4.0.
We landed a 30/1 treble a couple of weeks ago and this time we're looking to go even bigger with a 42/1 shot!
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