Norway vs Sweden by 20Legend
It will be a fantastic atmosphere and an exciting match with Scandinavian eyes as Norway welcomes Sweden to a friendly match at Ullevaal Stadium. Norway has made some better results in the qualification to the European Championship –Group H. Even if Croatia is leading with 13 points, Norway is 3rd (9 points) with just two points behind 2nd placed Italy (11 points).
They are ranked 8th among the third-place teams where only the best team will make it to the EC, but it is no doubt that people in Norway are more positive than ever before in terms of their national team at the moment. With a home match against a struggling Azerbaijan at home on Friday, it will be a perfect occasion to test the national pride against Sweden in this friendly.
It is an interesting atmosphere surrounding the Norwegian league at the moment. New offensive faces have started to step up and shown their capabilities. That has given the Norwegian manager Per Mathias Hogmo some long needed offensive alternatives. Alexander Soderlund (Rosenborg), Adama Diomande (Stabaek), Pal Andre Helland (Rosenborg), Stefan Johansen (Celtic) and Magnus Wolf Eikrem (Malmo FF) are just some of the players that are in really good form at the moment. This can give Norway a better attacking momentum in their games, which is something Norway has desperately needed since John Carew, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Steffen Iversen retired years ago.
Norway has brought 26 players in their squad to this match and some of them will not play tonight because of matches yesterday. Since the players at Molde played their match on Friday, they are the only domestic players that Hogmo plans on using against Sweden, together with the players that play in the European clubs. 3rd keeper Sten Grytebust (Aalesund), Valon Berisha (Red Bull Salzburg), Jone Samuelsen (Odd), Harmeet Singh (Molde) and Stefan Strandberg (Rosenborg) are all unavailable tonight because of injuries. Rune Jarstein (Hertha Berlin), Tarik Elyounoussi (Hoffenheim), Steffen Hagen (Odd), Mohammed Elyounoussi (Molde) and Anders Konradsen (Rennes) are included in the squad in order to have enough players. He is expected to let these players rest tonight: Adama Diomande (Stabaek), Alexander Soderlund (Rosenborg), Pal Andre Helland (Rosenborg), Henning Hauger (Elfsborg), Magnus Wolf Eikrem (Malmö FF), Andre Hansen (Rosenborg) and Tom Hogli (FC Copenhagen).
Sweden has also done well in their qualification Group G so far as they are in 2nd place with 9 points. With Austria on top with 13 points and Russia only one point behind in 3rd, it will be a tough battle for them ahead. They are facing Montenegro at Friends Arena on Sunday and a loss here will make the race in order to qualify much harder. Sweden is still undefeated so far with 2-3-0. The wins have come against Lichtenstein (2-0) and Moldova (0-2), while the three draws came against Austria (1-1), Russia (1-1) and Montenegro (1-1). However, it could all have been quite different as both Austria and Montenegro were scored their goals on penalties in order to make it a draw, while Sebastian Larsson failed to score on Sweden’s penalty in the game against Russia.
Sweden has to rely on their superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the qualification. He has already got three goals to his name his four appearances, as he sat on the bench through the whole game against Russia. He is one of the players that have struggled with injuries in the past weeks, but he should be ready to play. Sweden have had a numerous of players that have played regularly in the big leagues over the years, but it is not so many superstars as before in this team. Nevertheless they have many players with a lot of international experience in this team with Albin Ekdal, Adreas Isaksson, Ola Toivonen, Sebastian Larsson and Kim Källström.
The Swedish manager Erik Hamren has some big injury worries at the moment. Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Mikael Antonsson, Martin Olsson and Pontus Jansson (Torino) are all missing with injuries. In addition will Andreas Granquist has to serve his suspension after receiving two yellow cards on their last qualification match against Moldova. Therefore, defender Alexander Milosevic is brought in as an extra central back in front of this game. He needs to get some minutes before the U21 European Championship and he is expected to start together with Jonas Olsson in the heart of their defense. Seven of the players that are selected in the squad will not play the game against Norway because they played on Sunday evening. The players are keeper Robin Olsen, defenders Ludwig Augustinsson, Anton Tinnerholm, Erik Johansson and Per Nilsson together with the offensive players Marcus Berg and Marcus Rhoden. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has also been struggling with a thigh injury at the end of the season with PSG, but he is expected to be ready to the game against Montenegro. It is not certain how much he will play against Norway though, but some minutes could be wise as he has some lack of match training.
This is obviously a match were result does not mean anything and both teams will use the game to prepare in front of their more important qualification games on Friday. However, it will be a match with a lot of supporters as almost 26 500 tickets is sold already which should make a perfect atmosphere surrounding the match. Sweden’s team has more experience and has played more together compared to Norway’s team. The many absentees and rested players on both teams make it difficult to know who will be in the final lineup. That will hurt Norway’s offense a lot because some of the in-form players will be rested (Diomande, Soderlund and Helland). That leaves fewer alternatives up front with Havard Nielsen and Joshua King as the only ones. However, Hogmo has not excluded the possibility of letting Soderlund or Helland get some minutes even if they played on Saturday. This will be based on communication with Rosenborg and the players themselves.
This friendly truly comes in the way of everything for both teams. Still I think it all leaves the game more open and that both teams will get their chances. It is still enough quality to score goals in both teams and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in need of match training; it could be more goals than expected by the bookmakers as well. A full packed stadium is not something you see every game at Ullevaal, and it is definitely something that the players will hear. The odds on over 2.5 goals are very good and it is an interesting option.