World No. 16 Greece takes on Lithuania in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match on Friday in Vilnius.
Greece defender Avraam Papadopoulos has been dropped from the match due to health problems, according to the Associated Press (via TimesColonist.com).
Will Lithuania take advantage and shock the Greeks?
Here's a preview of the action on the pitch, complete with broadcast information.
Where: LFF Stadium, Vilnius, Lithuania
When: Friday, June 7 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Even with the loss of Papadopoulos, Greece should have the advantage in this matchup.
You may remember that Greece blanked Lithuania in September 2012, 2-0. In fact, the Greeks have won three of their first five World Cup qualifying matches, with a draw and a loss against world No. 15 Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the 2-0 victory over Lithuania, Greece possessed the ball for 58 percent of the time while getting off 13 shots to Lithuania's three. The Lithuanians only got off one shot on goal in the match. If it wasn't for goalkeeper Žydrūnas Karčemarskas (who made five saves), Lithuania may have gotten blown out in that match.
Greece's defense has generally been solid in qualifying, with the exception of the 3-1 loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina in March. That figures to once again be a challenge for the Lithuanians, who have scored four goals in five qualifying matches so far (also getting shut out by Bosnia-Herzegovina). In effect, Lithuania is currently in last place in Group G.
Greece coach Fernando Santos isn't taking Lithuania lightly, though. After all, anything can happen on the pitch. We've seen that time and time again.
Santos said before Friday's match, via the Associated Press report:
We have to be the better side and win. It doesn't matter whether that is decided in the first half or the second half. But, to be sure, we can't afford to wait.
The Lithuania game is a big one, and that's obviously what we're focusing on.
Of course, it helps to have someone like Sokratis Papastathopoulos when you lose a player like Papadopoulos. Papastathopoulos has been showing great form as of late. He will be important for the Greeks if they are to move past Lithuania in hostile territory.
Greece can't be feeling spectacular with Papadopoulos out of action, but the side is strong enough to weather the storm for now, especially against world No. 105 Lithuania.
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