Azerbaijan vs Norway by 20Legend
Azerbaijan started their qualification against San Marion (0-1) away from home and took a win as predicted. However, the team did struggle on taking advantage of their dominant control of the ball through the game. The goal came right before halftime, but it was also their fourth big chance to score. The second half should have given even more goals when San Marino got a player sent off after 53 minutes. However, Azerbaijan did not manage to take any further advantage of having one more player on the pitch. The chances actually became fewer despite having even more of the ball possession. On the other hand, San Marino was never near scoring themselves and it all became a deserved 0-1 win for the guests.
Norway got smashed as predicted against the best team in the group when Germany left Ullevaal Stadion with all three points. With a starting lineup that involved world class players like Ozil, Muller, Kroos and Neuer, it became clear quite early that Norway did not have a chance. Muller was the man of the night as he scored 0-1 already after 15 minutes. He then served Kimmich for the second goal right before halftime. In between, Norway created one dangerous chance when striker Joshua King had lots of space in front of Manuel Neuer, but the efficiency was not there. Frustration started to build up in the second half from the Norwegian players and it did not get better when Thomas Muller gave Germany their third goal after 60 minutes.
The rest of the match was only a matter of how much more effort that Germany wanted to put into the remaining minutes. Norway became spectators and used their energy on running all over the place in order to try getting the ball. However, Germany was satisfied with three goals and secured three much deserved points.
It is expected that midfielder Stefan Johansen will be taken out of the starting lineup after his lack of minutes for his new club Fulham this season. Hogmo is prioritizing players that are in from and get matches on a regular basis which is a wise decision. The probable lineup that has been drilled on the training ground is also dominated by players that either are or have been involved in Rosenborg. That is a great sign in my opinion as the players know each other well and could find a natural chemistry in these important upcoming matches. Striker Joshua King got a slight knock on Wednesday’s training. He did not participate on training on Thursday, but was back on Friday and is expected to start tonight.
The following lineup is predicted to start for Norway in a 4-5-1 formation:
Rune Jarstein – Jonas Svensson, Stefan Strandberg, Even Hovland, Haitan Aleesami – Pål André Helland, Markus Henriksen, Ole Selnæs, Per Ciljan Skjelbred, Adama Diomande – Joshua King.
Norway has been a horrible team to watch through the latest years as they have always failed to reach the big tournaments. After missing out in the golden playoff-opportunity for last summer’s European Championship against Hungary last year, the pressure has really built up on coach Per Mathias Hogmo. All media, experts, former players and people in general demands two wins in the upcoming games against Azerbaijan and San Marino. That is a totally fair point of view in my opinion as well. This Norwegian team has eight players in the biggest leagues in the world, while Azerbaijan mainly has players from the domestic league and none in Europe.
Hogmo has been defensive in his statements as always with Azerbaijan being a strong opponent that will be tough to break down. I agree on his last argument with the hosts being low from the start, but Norway should have the quality to win this. It do not make this prediction because of the fact that I am Norwegian myself, but simply because Norway must win this game in order to keep hoping for qualifying for a big championship this time. With stronger opponents like Czech Republic and Northern Ireland being in the group as well, three points must be expected at the Olympic Stadium in Baku.