Greece shares dull friendly draw with Switzerland

By George Georgakopoulos

A depleted Greek national team produced an unimpressive performance in a goalless friendly with Switzerland in Piraeus on Wednesday that will not have given many clues to coach Fernando Santos ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier against Bosnia next month.

The 0-0 result appeared fair at the Karaiskakis Stadium after a rather dull first half and a balanced second, with neither team delivering what a friendly game would normally promise, i.e. a not so cautious and slightly more adventurous approach.

The teams of managers Santos and Ottmar Hitzfeld are known for their defensive abilities and that was exactly what the Greeks and the Swiss showed on the night, producing few chances throughout the 90 minutes.

Greece did lack the edge of Giorgos Samaras and Fanis Gekas, who were not called up for the friendly and will be badly needed on March 22, as Greece will not only have to defend well against the free-scoring Bosnians but also score at least one goal to have the upper hand in the battle for the top spot of the qualifying group.

Among the Greek players to have done well on the night were central defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, defensive midfielder Alexandros Tziolis and goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, with young central defender Costas Manolas also having a decent debut.