Portugal will be looking to build on the good start to the Fernando Santos era when they take on Armenia in the Algarve on Friday evening in a Euro 2016 Group I qualifier.
Armenia may have only one point from two games so far, but Santos was at pains to warn against underestimating the team who boast a player of the quality of Henrikh Mkhitaryan (pictured).
Armenian football journalist Vera Martirosyan brings us the lowdown on what the Seleção can expect from the Eurasian nation.
PortuGOAL: Armenia are a little unlucky to have just one point from two games after late goals prevented a draw in Denmark and a victory against Serbia. How do you rate the Armenian team?
Armenia’s national squad has been unlucky, because in the match against Denmark our team was wining 1-0. And then when our leader got injured the game changed. We lost, but those who watched the game will agree that it was an even match.
At the moment the best is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who plays for Borussia Dortmund. He is only 25 but already he is the best striker in Armenia’s football history.Yura Movsisyan is also a very strong and useful player.
He plays for Spartak Moscow, but may soon move to Germany or England because the other teams are showing an interest in him. Last year he was the best striker in the Russian Premier League. At the moment Aras Ozbiliz, one of the key players from Spartak, is out because of an injury. Gevorg Ghazaryan from Olympiakos and Marcos Pizzeli from Aktobe are also strong performers.
And of course our goalkeeper Roman Berezovski, who is our captain, has to be highlighted. He is a penalty-saving expert so Ronaldo must be careful!
Our strong point is definitely our attack. Henrikh and Yura can solve any kind of problem if they are in good shape. Another strong aspect of the side is the dedication of our players. Armenia is a small country and every victory in football becomes a big event. Footballers know it, and there are a lot of games when Armenian players were playing against stronger opponents, but defeated them.
The weakest aspect is the defence. There are no famous names. Having said that, Armenia have not suffered any heavy losses in recent times.
Of course, during the last match against Serbia, Armenia tried to play more defensive. But after the first half, the Armenians started to attack. And I will repeat that our key attacking players missed the game.
Armenia plays with the 5-2-2-1 or 5-2-1-2 tactics. These are formations brought by our new coach Bernard Challandes. I will not say that Armenia play defensive football. If they have the chance, they will be very fast on the counter-attack.
The Armenian players are in the mood for this game. After a draw against Serbia with a second string team, the Armenian players believe in their strength. And as soon as Mkhitaryan and Movsisyan are back, there will be new emotions and power. Bernard Challandes is a very good motivator, and there has been a noticeable change, with the players believing in themselves.
We also have to remember that Armenia always play well against Portugal. In four games there have been 2 draws and 2 defeats, at a time when Armenia were weak. In 2007, there was Ronaldo and company, but there were no stars in the Armenian team.
Ahead of the Serbia match, the Armenian media said we had no chance, because our squad was so weak. But after the game everybody started to praise the team, and especially when we saw the game against Denmark, when Portugal only scored in the last minute. So the Armenian media representatives believe that nothing is impossible.
PortuGOAL: What do you think the result of the game will be?
It’s hard to guess the result, because Portugal is a very strong team and Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world. It will be hard for Armenians, but after all the difficulties that we have passed through my intuition tells me that Armenia will win!
Our thanks to Vera Martirosyan from sport.news.am.