Greece struggle to hit their stride
Defending champions Greece completed their friendly preparations for UEFA EURO 2008™ with a goalless draw against Armenia in a match high on effort but low on quality in Offenbach am Main in front of an enthusiastic, largely Greek crowd.
Otto Rehhagel's side had markedly improved defensively from their 3-2 loss against Hungary last Saturday, but struggled creatively and threatened little around their opponents' area. Armenia started brightly and had a good chance to go in front on 15 minutes when Levon Pachajyan, after taking advantage of an error by Sotiris Kyrgiakos, shot from the edge of the box only for Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis to save well at full stretch. Five minutes later, Nikopolidis was called on again to block Marcos Piseli's long-range effort.
Greece had their best chance on 30 minutes, when Giorgos Karagounis worked space for himself and sent over a pin-point cross to Dimitris Salpingidis, who headed just over. Two minutes later, Armenian goalkeeper Gevorg Kasparov turned away Angelos Basinas's powerful drive, then was thankful to see Angelos Charisteas shoot wide after failing to properly deal with a Giourkas Seitaridis cross.
Rehhagel made five substitutions after the break and the rhythm dropped as a consequence. Even so, Greece came close to breaking the deadlock on 51 minutes, only for Kasparov to deny substitute Giorgos Samaras's curling right-foot shot with a spectacular save. Ararat Arakelyan then headed wide for Armenia on 85 minutes before producing a more telling contribution at the other end, clearing under the nose of Charisteas after Kasparov had been unable to gather Kostas Katsouranis's stinging drive from distance. Greece leave Germany on Tuesday morning and travel for Salzburg, where they play all their Group D games, kicking off the defence of their title on 10 June against Sweden.
Greece: Nikopolidis, Seitaridis, Kyrgiakos, Dellas (Antzas 46), Spiropoulos (Torosidis 46), Basinas, Katsouranis, Karagounis (Patsatzoglou 46), Charisteas, Salpingidis (Gekas 46), Amanatidis (Samaras 46).
Armenia: Kasparov, Hovsepyan, Arzumanyan, Arakelyan, Voskanian, Hamlet Mkhitaryan (A Minasyan 65), Ghazaryan (Melkonyan 60), Piseli (Hakobyan 54), Pachajyan, Mkrtchyan, Tadevosyan.