Norway U21 vs Switzerland U21 by 20Legend
Norway has the current 3rd place in qualification Group 9 after 3-1-2 and 10 points so far. That means that they still have a chance of reaching a playoff-spot that belongs to Switzerland at the moment that is one place above them.
Norway got humiliated by England (6-1) and had to deal with a lot of criticism after their performance in that game. However, the squad was able to respond as 4th placed Kazakhstan got beaten 2-1 in their last game. It was a match where Norway managed to raise the level of their total performance as a group, which made them dominate the game. Norway created several chances to score, but still only led 1-0 at halftime. It was a serious wakeup call when Kazakhstan responded shortly after the second half started. The Norwegian team kept on producing chances, but it got more difficult to break through with Kazakhstan being more defensive in order to secure a surprising point away from home.
Norway got awarded with a penalty after 63 minutes, but Elyounoussi failed to make his second goal of the day. However, Norway kept on making chances and the win finally came to place once Elyounoussi found striker Aleksander Sorloth with a great pass after 69 minutes. Kazakhstan was never a threat to equalize once again which put Norway back in the fight for a 2nd place in the group. They are currently in 3rd place with 10 points, two points behind Switzerland and one game in hand. Winger Veton Berisha (Greuther Furth) and keeper Per Kristian Bratveit (Haugesund) have forced to miss the game due to injuries. Julian Kristoffersen (FC Copenhagen) and Oyvind Chrstioffer Knutsen (Jerv) are the new players brought in as replacements.
Switzerland has the 2nd place as mentioned, but only managed a goalless draw against rock bottom Bosnia & Herzegovina (0-0) in their last match. It was a poor performance when also considering the fact that Bosnia & Herzegovina got a player sent off after 59 minutes. The first half pointed out Bosnia & Herzegovina to be the most dangerous team. Switzerland kept much of the ball, but it was the hosts that made the shots at goal. However, only a great keeper made it 0-0 at halftime. The guests came more to life in the second half and the red card made them controlling more of the game.
With that being said, it was not any real feast of a game as Switzerland could not manage to take advantage of the momentum. Bosnia & Herzegovina defended well and the game faded out with a point to each team. It can really be bad for Switzerland who has played one more game than 3rd placed Norway who is only two points behind them at the table.
It is obvious that both teams need three points tonight as both teams wants to take the 2nd place and get the chance of proceeding through playoff. Norway has the upper hand in my opinion with a game in hand compared to Switzerland, but also the home advantage tonight. Even though both teams have been quite strong defensively during this qualification, both teams must score in order to reach a possible playoff here. Norway has several interesting and technical players with Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid), Mohamed Elyounoussi (Basel) and Mats Moller Daehli (SC Freiburg). Switzerland on the other hand has also a strong team that combines physical and strong with technical and quick players.
The opposite meeting finished 1-1 last year after a stunning individual goal by Norway’s Anders Trondsen after 19 minutes before a nice goal from Switzerland’s Haris Tabakovic after 30 minutes sealed the score. The rest of the game became a tough match with duals and it will probably be the picture tonight as well. Switzerland has often adapted their way of playing to the opponent that they have met during this qualification and it will probably be the case here as well. Norway usually controls their home games, but they also need to be a lot tougher when it comes to set pieces and duals in general.
All in all, I see a nervous and physical game here with two teams being afraid of missing vital points. I think that it will be a close and low scoring match, but it is also difficult to pick the winner. I rather pick under 2.5 goals at Marienlyst Stadion this evening.