Norway Men’s World Cup campaign ended in misery after their 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands, succumbing to two late goals by Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay, securing the Dutch automatic qualification, while Turkey’s 2-1 win over Montenegro ensured they finished 2nd and headed into the Play Offs to fight for their chance to play at the finals in Qatar. It was always going to be a tough group for Norway, contending with the Netherlands and Turkey. However, with a generational, world-class talent like Erling Haaland and with Martin Ødegaard in support, they would’ve hoped for the Play Offs. Now, Norwegian supporters will be left wondering if they will ever capitalise on the Haaland.
Norway’s International Performance
Overcoming the likes of the Netherlands, as mentioned, was a difficult task. The Dutch contingent boast impressive talent across the team – Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Depay, De Light, Van de Beek. They were a surprisingly fun package at Euro 2020, scoring their way into later rounds than most expected. Looking at the latest odds from the Casumo sportsbook, though, the Netherlands are off the pace of nations like Brazil, France, and England, meaning they’ll have to mount another surprise assault to be in with a shout of being world champions.
Norway, though, were only competing with the Netherlands theoretically, if the opportunity presented itself. Turkey were their immediate rivals, vying for that Play Off place. In the head-to-head, they came out 3-0 losers at home to Turkey, with a Kristian Thorstvedt red card coming after the three goals were conceded. A 1-1 draw away in Turkey wasn’t enough to claw back the points separation, putting the Norwegians’ chances of qualification in an especially difficult position. They couldn’t make up the difference, finishing three vital points behind the Turks.
Haaland only played six of the ten qualifiers. He missed the final four games, in which Norway only won one. It was a vital period of qualification. Putting his absence as the key reason for Norway failing to qualify is of course simplistic, especially as football is notoriously a weak-link sport. Nonetheless, Haaland’s presence of course helps.
His play style benefits from service, as with any striker. He is not one who will beat three players off-the-dribble to create a chance. Ødegaard’s ability to fasten those chances is imperative to the team’s success. However, given even a very minor chance, Haaland will likely finish it. The big Norwegian forward will put in a shift in defence, does everything he can to win, and his link-up play is becoming impressive. But Norway, like Sweden with Ibrahimovic and, weirdly, even Argentina with Messi, will be hoping there’s more to come from the players around him so that they can try to perform on the biggest international stages.
What Does the Future Hold?
The next qualification cycle will be for Euro 2024. The natural progression of players will aid in the improvement of the team and Norwegians will be hoping that new gems will emerge and have an immediate impact on the set-up. They will likely be in a similar position to the World Cup qualifiers: writing off finishing first as they’ll be drawn with at least one major nation, leaving them to a dog-fight for second and the Play Offs.
Standout matches today