Monday 8th September 2014
European Championships Qualifying Group E
Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino
San Marino v. Lithuania
San Marino get their Euro 2016 campaign up and running with a home fixture against Lithuania; a match which according to the world rankings represents San Marino’s best hope for avoiding a defeat in this group.
Best hope it may be but it’s a rather slim and unlikely one. Lithuania are currently ranked 103rd by FIFA as compared to San Marino’s 208th, but that does make them the second lowest ranked team in the group. For completeness, the other rankings are Switzerland (9th), England (20th), Slovenia (39th) and Estonia (93rd). It doesn’t sound quite so bad if I mention that Lithuania re the 45th ranked European team, a mere 8 places above San Marino, but let’s be honest; the world ranking figure is a truer reflection in this case.
Then again, the last time these two were paired together was in the qualifying for the 2006 World Cup and on that occasion the home match was only lost 1-0; Lithuania scoring the only goal late in the first half. The away match had already been lost 4-0 however. As always, a more realistic hope is for San Marino to try and score a goal rather than the unlikely event of avoiding a defeat.
Lithuania finished 4th in their World Cup 2014 qualifying group, the group won by Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was also the position they finished in the last Euro qualifiers. If there is to be a glimmer of hope, perhaps it comes from that Euro 2012 group where Lithuania failed lost and drew in their two matches with Liechtenstein (the only team San Marino have ever beaten) and picked up their solitary win away in the Czech Republic. However they did put that right with home and away wins over Liechtenstein in their 2014 World Cup group.
Most recently Lithuania won two of their three summer matches beating Poland in their last friendly, and Finland in a Baltic Cup clash. In between they lost 1-0 to Latvia in the Baltic Cup Final.
The other teams in Group E are in action on Monday too with the following fixtures:
Estonia v. Slovenia
Switzerland v. England
San Marino’s full Euro 2016 fixtures are as follows:
8thSeptember 2014 San Marino v. Lithuania
9thOctober 2014 England v. San Marino
14thOctober 2014 San Marino v. Switzerland
15thNovember 2014 San Marino v. Estonia
27thMarch 2015 Slovenia v. San Marino
14thJune 2015 Estonia v. San Marino
5thSeptember 2015 San Marino v. England
8thSeptember 2015 Lithuania v. San Marino
9thOctober 2015 Switzerland v. San Marino
12thOctober 2015 San Marino v. Slovenia