The journey of Žalgiris players to Vasa - after 66 years © E. Žaldario

On Tuesday night, the „Žalgiris“ team arrived in Finland where they will play their first match in the UEFA Conference League on Thursday. 66 years ago, the capital's footballers took one of their first international steps here.

Vaasa is a small port located on the Gulf of Bothnia, more than 400 kilometers northwest of Helsinki. There are historical connections between the little-known city and Lithuania.

The name Vaasa was given to the city by the Vasa dynasty (whose symbol, the vase, is also in the city's coat of arms) during the reign of Charles XI, whose son Sigismund Vasa ruled Poland and Lithuania for almost half a century.

Not many people are familiar with the Vaasa football club. Nevertheless, Vilnius football representatives have competed with this team before. In 1958, the Vilnius representative team (then known as „Spartak“) went abroad for the first time since the war.

During their tour of Finland in July 1958, the Vilnius team played several friendly matches against local teams. Among them was the Vaasa team, which was easily defeated - 7:0.

The next friendly matches against the Finns took place about three decades later, and the „Žalgiris“ team has never played official matches against Finnish clubs. In Vilnius, HJK from Finland visited, defeating „Vėtra“ (1:0) in the qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League in 2009.

This time, „Žalgiris“ cannot expect an easy encounter as in the past - VPS surprised Finland last season with a record-breaking winning streak, and this year they are among the leaders in the championship group.

The Vilnius team departed for Finland late on Tuesday night and after a short stop in Helsinki, they arrived in Vaasa at night.

On Wednesday evening, „Žalgiris“ will train at the match stadium, and the match will be played on Thursday at 8 p.m.

The match will be available to watch online.

The return leg will be played in a week, on July 18 in Vilnius.

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