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.

 
In the match against Serbia, Armenia played without 5 key players. Everybody thought that Serbia would win without any problems. However, Armenia scored first and then we could have scored a second goal, but our player missed a penalty. It is really bad to have only one point, but now all our important players are in a good condition, except for Aras Ozbiliz. And we have an appetite for the next games. 
 
 
PortuGOAL: Ones to watch - who are Armenia’s star players?

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!

 
PortuGOAL: Strong points/weak points. What must Portugal beware of and what can they exploit?

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. 

 
PortuGOAL: Formation and playing style – what system do Armenia usually play? Would you describe them generically as an attacking or a defensive team?

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. 

 
PortuGOAL: Mood in the camp – judging by player/coach quotes regarding this game, do you think Armenia come into it in a confident frame of mind?

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.  

 
PortuGOAL: What is the Armenian media saying about the match? 

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

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  • Guest - Larry USA

    In all seriousness, we have to be careful not to underestimate this Armenia team. Alot of underdog teams in Europe are on the rise. Look at what happened with Albania? And Serbia have gotten better and better each year, alot of youth on that squad. Im confident yet cautious about this match. We must attack with caution, I do favor seeing William Carvalho helping out on the defensive side as the trinco, Patricio in goal, Pepe and Ricky Carvalho with Eleisu and possibly Bosingwa?. Mourtinho, Tiago, and Joao Mario in mid, Ronaldo, Nani and Danny wlll need to attack with no regard. I do favor this false nine approach by Santos, the lone striker option is on hold til we find a really decent one, like we had w nuno gomes and Pauleta...Eder and Postiga are dreadful and old. What I noticed about Portugal is sometimes they don't shoot enough on goal. Its always one too many passes. You'll never win unless you shoot. Well, unless your Mourinho who likes to "park the bus" and drag it out all 90 minutes of boring, defensive football. Anyways, I am confident we can get all 3 points, but we gotta be very careful. Armenia may pull some surprises, we will see...

    Forca!

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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    "Armenia's strong point is in attack and weakest in defence." That just brought a smile to my face. "Armenia will win!" LOL. The stage is set for a good ol' beat down. Portugal 4-0 Armenia . You heard it here first folks. Força!

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  • Hi Guys,

    Clarifications:

    Sorry but before I start on the Football stuff, I need to clarify the comment in this article Quote "expect from the Eurasian nation" unquote, which was in reference to the Armenian Nation. First of all, Eurasia is a term used to describe the combined landmasses of both Europe and Asia and therefore by this logic Portugal could also be called a Eurasian Nation as it is in fact in Europe. Just to clarify, any nation within Europe or Asia could be classified as Eurasian. In modern times, Armenia has been geographically located in the Caucasus or Southern Caucasus (in previous times it was located in Eastern Anatolia as well) and is generally referred to in our times as a Caucasus nation and not a Eurasian nation, as are the other Caucasus nation, Georgia, Azerbaijan and of course a very small part of Russia.

    Thoughts on the game:

    Now back to the game. I think under Bento we might have struggled to get past Armenia. Armenia play with plenty of heart and I would say that their defence is not that bad because it looks weak as their attack is actually quite good with Mikhatarian at the forefront of it. On paper, Armenia in my opinion have more potential than Denmark and should be challenging for that third place. In my opinion, what hinders them is and most up and coming teams is not quality but, experience as expereince breeds confidence and belief, and eradicates self-doubt. The team has proven that they will rise to the occasion and on their day they have proven they can get results against the top sides as evidenced by their 2:2 draw with Italy in Italy last year. In saying this though, with no disrespect to Armenia, I think Portugal is a changed team under Santos and should win this game quite comfortably. I'm really hoping to see young Raphael Guerreiro in the team, who according to reviews is a real up and coming gem and glad that he chose Portugal over his native France. I'm going to predict a 3:1 result

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Just win. We need to get all three points from this match.
    We really need to start winning and getting a starting 11and bench together.
    Serbia, in March, will not be easy especially with their up and coming squad. Armenia to follow after that once again.

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