With the exception of England, no other country in 2018 World Cup qualification Group F is likely to have a better understanding of the Scotland team than Lithuania.
The two countries have played eight times since Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, sharing four Euro qualifying groups in a row between 2000 & 2012.
With a squad that boasts a mixture of experience and young talent – including 20-year old Juventus midfielder Vykintas Slivka – Lithuania could provide a few shocks in Group F:
As of June 2015: 96
Highest: 37 – October 2008
Lowest: 119 – November 2012
LFF Stadium, Vilnius
Lithuania has a proud footballing history that actually pre-dates the country’s absorption into the Soviet Union in 1940. Their first international game after independence came in 1990 against Georgia.
The Baltic country has never advanced to a World Cup or European Championship finals, but has produced some memorable results at the qualification stage. In the race for a Euro 2004 spot, Lithuania beat Berti Vogt’s Scotland at home and drew 1-1 with Germany in Nuremberg. Since then they’ve continued to pull off shocks with a 1-1 draw with Italy in 2006 and a 3-0 victory over Romania in 2008 standing out.
Lithuania have taken a tumble down the rankings in recent years and sit second bottom of their Euro 2016 qualifying group. Although they have claimed two draws against Slovenia, third seeds in our World Cup qualification group.
Lithuania’s most experienced player with 68 caps and a Scottish Cup winner with Hearts in 2006. ‘Miko’ – as the Hearts fans affectionately called him –showed varying form during his four years in Scotland but enjoyed some stand-out moments including netting the winner in a Boxing Day win over Hibs in 2006. Now playing in Belarus with Shakhtyor Soligorsk, the 31-year old still has the ability to harm teams drifting in from his favoured position on the right wing.
Scotland have won five of their eight meetings with Lithuania - but have won just once in four away ties. A 0-0 draw in 1998, a 1-0 loss in 2003 and another goalless draw in 2010 should leave Scotland in no doubts about the challenge they’ll face in Vilnius in September 2017.
Lithuanian players have had a significant impact on the Scottish game in the past 15 years, due largely in part to Hearts link-up with FBK Kaunas between 2005 and 2010. Twelve players have represented Hearts and Lithuania - including current squad members Deividas Cesnauskis and Mikoliunas, who featured in the club’s 2006 Scottish Cup win.
The country’s most capped player, Andrius Skerla, spent five years at Dunfermline Athletic between 2000 and 2005 and remains the only player from the Baltic States to have scored in a Scottish Cup final.