Magnus Pehrsson, Captain Ragnar Klavan and striker Henri Anier appeared at the press conference held today at Radisson Blu Lietuva, the hotel where ‘Eesti Koondis’ is staying for this away game.
Magnus appeared as usual relaxed and confident even though the injuries situation compelled him to leave home Tajo Teniste and call striker Kaimar Saag.
Artur Pikk might join the team if he will get a clearance from the Estonian minister of defence as he is due to be on duty for the Estonian military service (so far he has had a special permission to train and play with Levadia within the Estonian boundaries). He might, if allowed, reach Vilnius tonight.
‘The other players (22 –edit) will train tonight’ told Pehrsson to the press ‘hopefully everybody is ready for the starting XI.’
As usual, no hints at who might start on Thursday.
KNOW YOUR OPPONENTS
A big turnout of Lithuanian journalists produced a series of questions about what Pehrsson knows about the Lithuanian national team.
‘They have a clear organization’ said Pehrsson ‘we expect them to play either 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2. It’s a very hard-working team and they have offensive qualities.’
Talking about offensive qualities, attention drawn at the ‘derby’ between Henri Anier and Arvydas Novikovas, teammates at FC Erzgebirge Aue: ‘he is a good player’ said Henri Anier ‘even though we haven’t played so much together yet.’ Anier did not exclude to exchange the shirt at the end of the game: ‘he is a great guy, we’ve been joking with him about this game for two months already.’
Anier’s form seems to be an issue point since he is not a regular at the 2.Bundesliga club. However, Henri pushes back any doubts over his situation ‘it would be ideal to play, but I have been training all the time so far.’ Meanwhile in Germany, Aue has been testing a young Dutch striker from Vitesse Arnhem, Killien Jungen.
However it’s not all about Novikovas.
Janno Kivisild (Estonian national team assistant coach) has already briefed the squad in the morning. Pehrsson singles out other individuals: ‘the captain is the leader of the defence, and the Lithuanian wingers are able to dribble.’
EESTI SURU LEEDU VASTU (KUNST)MURU*
The concerns about the artificial grass continue: ‘for the players it is indeed something different and it’s more difficult to bring pressure on this type of ground’ confessed the 38-year-old coach. What do the players think then? Klavan admits they did not get familiar with the pitch yet, whereas the Lithuanian national team has been hitting the astro turf of LFF Stadionas already since Saturday. ‘Most of their national team players play domestic league on artificial pitches’ hinted Klavan at their slight advantage.’
Today they will have another training session (17:00) whereas Estonia will try the pitch for the first time at 19:00.
BALTIC DERBY? NO THANKS
Lithuanian journalists insisted on the stress put by local press and fans on the importance to win this derby. According to the precedents, Estonia and Lithuania are perfectly even (in European qualifiers, however, Lithuania has the upper hand) and this is seen as game to state who is superior.
Does the Estonian team think the same? Not really. ‘For us it’s an important qualification game already’ stated the team Captain acting as squad’s spokeperson ‘no further motivation than that is needed. Of course, we are both Baltic states so emotions are always involved.’
What does a ‘neutral’ Swede thinks of the Baltic challenge? ‘I wouldn’t look at this big picture right now’ stated Perhsson ‘we will play again next year and will be as much tight as tomorrow.’
Pehrsson confirmed he will take all the positive things seen against Slovenia and hope they will be seen also against Lithuania. ‘We need to be compact and united’ stressed the Swedish gaffer. At the same time, Estonia will have to make the game since Lithuania has also the big dream of clinching the third place. In the end, it might be most important Lithuania-Estonia derby ever.
WINNING IS NOT ALL FOR ESTONIA
Estonia has the clear objective to try and qualify for the Euro 2016 via the third place. A goal confirmed by Pehrsson to the Lithuanian press. However, winning tonight doesn’t seem compulsory. ‘It’s always important to win’ said the Swede ‘but a point away is not bad.’ Klavan sings along ‘for us a positive result means certainly a draw or a win’
Angelo Palmeri from Vilnius
Lithuanian team news
VIDEO: groundchecking at LFF Stadionas
The referee of the game, Carlos Clos Gomez (SPA)
*pun with popular Estonian fans chant, 'Eesti Suru -opponents name- Vastu Muru' - Estonia, press the opposition against the grass. 'Kunstmuru' means artificial grass.