Norway vs Iceland by 20Legend
A new serious test is facing the Norwegian team as Iceland pays a visit to Ullevaal Stadion this evening. Norway arrives from a recent defeat against Portugal (3-0) in Porto where the young Norwegian squad struggled on getting the ball in the back of the net. However, Portugal was also without three of their superstars with Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Nani not taking part. That gave Norway some sort of hope prior to the game that they would get some chances despite their young team. It was also a fact that Norway created the most in the first half as well, but it was only Portugal who got the goal through a marvelous finish from Ricardo Quaresma after 13 minutes.
Portugal created another huge chance shortly after through their striker Eder, who did not get his shot on goal from 6-7 meters out. Then, Norway really started to improve and took over the initiative towards the halftime whistle. Firstly, their striker Joshua King lobbed just over the goal before he also got a one-on-one situation with the keeper a bit later, but the keeper saved the effort with his legs. Two big chances for each team made it a fair half from the Norwegian team after all.
The second half started the way the first half ended with Norway producing a huge chance to score. Veton Berisha met a cross with a header, but it hit the crossbar. The players were understandably getting frustrated by all the misses who probably led to Johansen making a foul just outside Norway’s box after 65 minutes. Despite the fact that free kick expert Cristiano Ronaldo was missing, it was a magnificent shot from Gurreiro who bended the ball beautifully into the net and made it 2-0.
The goal from a set-piece was certainly not ideal for the Norwegian player’s motivation and it became even tougher five minutes later. The Norwegian team went completely out of order as Joao Mario got himself free at the right-hand side and aimed for Eder inside the box, who had an easy task by scoring Portugal’s third goal without any pressure. It was five Norwegian players around him, but neither of them picked up the Portuguese striker. All in all it was a clear loss for Norway, but it was far from the crisis-performance that they delivered in the playoff-matches for the EURO 2016 against Hungary last year.
The Norwegian squad has the players who play in the Scandinavian leagues available here, while it has also been some alterations. Their 1st keeper Rune Jarstein (shoulder) is ruled out for both the next games and Sten Grytebust (Odense) is brought in as a replacement. Midfielder Fredrik Midtsjo (Rosenborg) and winger Jo Inge Berget (Malmo) are both injured as well. Niklas Gunnarsson (Hibernian, Ulrik Yttergard Jensen (Lyon) and Anders Trondsen are not included for the two remaining games.
Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid) and Marcus Pedersen (Stromsgodset) are also not available. Defender Ruben Gabrielsen (Molde) has been brought the squad, while striker Adama Diomande (Hull) is available after taking part in Hull's promotion to Premier League recently. That gives Norway the following squad available:
Goalkeepers: Orjan Nyland (FC Ingolstadt), Andre Hansen (Rosenborg), Sten Grytebust (Odense)
Defenders: Even Hovland (Nürnberg), Stefan Strandberg (Krasnodar), Martin Linnes (Galatasaray), Vegard Forren (Molde), Haitam Aleesami (IFK Goteborg), Jonas Svensson (Rosenborg), Ruben Gabrielsen (Molde)
Midfielders: Valon Berisha (Red Bull Salzburg), Iver Fossum (Hannover), Markus Henriksen (AZ Alkmaar), Ruben Yttergaard Jenssen (Kaiserslautern), Stefan Johansen (Celtic), Ole Selnaes (St.Etienne), Martin Samuelsen (Peterborough/West Ham)
Forwards: Joshua King (Bournemouth), Alexander Sorloth (Groningen), Veton Berisha (Greuther Fürth), Adama Diomande (Hull)
Iceland was on a whole different level during their qualification group for the EURO 2016 as they actually qualified. They did it by a fantastic record of 6-2-2 and 17:6 on goal difference along the way which is very impressive. It gave them a 2nd place in their group only behind Czech Republic, but ahead of Turkey and Netherlands. This is their confirmed squad for Euro 2016:
Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson (Bodo/Glimt), Ingvar Jónsson (Sandefjord), Ögmundur Kristinsson (Hammarby)
Defenders: Birkir Már Sævarsson (Hammarby), Ragnar Sigurðsson (Krasnodar), Kári Árnason (Malmö), Ari Freyr Skúlason (OB), Haukur Heiðar Hauksson (AIK), Hjörtur Hermannsson (IFK Göteborg), Hördur Björgvin Magnússon (Cesena), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Lokeren)
Midfielders: Aron Einar Gunnarsson (Cardiff), Gylfi Thór Sigurdsson (Swansea), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Birkir Bjarnason (Basel), Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson (Charlton), Theodór Elmar Bjarnason (AGF), Arnór Ingvi Traustason (IFK Norrköping), Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson (GIF Sundsvall)
Attackers: Kolbeinn Sigthórsson (Nantes), Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Jón Dadi Bödvarsson (Kaiserslautern), Eidur Smári Gudjohnsen (Molde)
When we look on what is ahead of us this summer, Iceland has a lot more to play for tonight as this goes down as a part of their preparation for the tournament in nine days. They are bringing a strong squad here, but it has been reported in the media that Iceland will rest some of the regulars that played this weekend in their clubs. No names are mentioned to be rested, but that could give Norway some hope here as well. Norway’s coach has been criticized for choosing way too tough opponents with Portugal, Iceland and Belgium being the three.
All of the teams are participating in the Euros next week, which should give these friendly games some value for both teams as Norway also need to get the feeling of which level they must be on to qualify for a tournament in the near future. Norway performed a good game against Portugal and especially the first half in terms of creating chances. With Iceland resting some players here, could give Norway the same scenarios tonight.
I am also certain that Iceland will create their amount of chance as well given their strong squad, so I think it is very strange how the bookmakers have made Norway the favorites here. I think that it will be more of an open game and I therefore think that a lower line of goals would suit this match better. Norway has a stronger squad available tonight than agaisnt Portugal, while Iceland has their best men brought here.
It is plenty of quality in the team even if some players would be rested as the coach has stated. I find the alternative of over 1.75 goals as a “safer” choice compared to the more risky 1X2 alternative given that the alterations both teams makes the match more open .