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Lithuania upbeat about Spain rematch

Published: Sunday 27 March 2011, 18.15CET
Beaten 3-1 by Spain in October, Lithuania retain hope of an upset when the holders visit on Tuesday. "You have to believe otherwise you'll never win," said coach Raimondas Žutautas.
by Vaidotas Januška
from Vilnius
Lithuania upbeat about Spain rematch
Darvydas Šernas celebrates his goal for Lithuania against the Czech Republic in September ©Getty Images
 
Published: Sunday 27 March 2011, 18.15CET

Lithuania upbeat about Spain rematch

Beaten 3-1 by Spain in October, Lithuania retain hope of an upset when the holders visit on Tuesday. "You have to believe otherwise you'll never win," said coach Raimondas Žutautas.

Lithuania are preparing to meet Spain for the second UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in succession hopeful that their positive outlook will pay dividends against the holders.

"You have to believe, otherwise you'll never win. The key will be to break down Spain's play
Raimondas Žutautas on the challenge of facing Spain

Raimondas Žutautas's team suffered their first Group I defeat of the campaign on 8 October when they lost 3-1 to the Roja – who beat the Czech Republic 2-1 on Friday – but they are far from despondent about their chances of upsetting the odds in the reverse fixture on home soil.

With that loss in Salamanca still fresh in the mind, Žutautas will not be making any special arrangements for the visit of the world and European champions to Kaunas on Tuesday. "We will prepare as usual, maybe only with more video analysis this time," he told UEFA.com. "There is no need to motivate the men. Everyone knows they are playing the champions."

When asked about his side's chances, Žutautas gave a philosophical view. "We will play 11 against 11, not 11 against 13," said Žutautas, whose side earned an encouraging 2-0 victory over Poland, the UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts, on Friday. "You have to believe, otherwise you'll never win. The key will be to break down Spain's play because if we give them possession easily, it'll be extremely difficult."

Marius Stankevičius, the former Sevilla FC defender who now plies his trade with Valencia CF, is accustomed to dealing with the likes of Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and David Villa. He, like his coach, retains a positive mood. "The determination and will to win could be our strength," said the 29-year-old.

"You don't need to speak about the responsibility of playing against the world champions − it comes by itself. Spain have outstanding players in every position. If we lose everyone will say that was supposed to happen, but we have to be positive and believe."

Former Lithuania striker Edgaras Jankauskas played in Spain's last visit, a goalless draw in a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier. The ex-Real Sociedad de Fútbol player views this as proof that his countrymen can spring a surprise. "We drew 0-0 and you can't say we were totally outplayed that evening," he said. "For the players this game is a huge challenge and honour."

A UEFA Champions League winner with FC Porto in 2004, Jankauskas also has experience of playing for a side burdened with the expectancy of victory − of being Goliath against David. "I played for a big team and when you come to a country where the weather and conditions are different than what you are used to, you just want to play the game and go home as early as possible. It could be our advantage this time."

Last updated: 29/03/11 14.15CET

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