Iceland - Norway

This campaign comes to the end for home side and they almost sure will be at the last place in group 9. Although Iceland have been improving their results in past years, they’re still far from the best European teams. Just one win and a draw in seven group games. In the first round they surprised tonight’s opponent in Oslo, displaying brave performance. 2-2 draw at the end, but interesting is Iceland could even to win, hitting a post in additional time. Other positive result is 1-0 home win against FYR Macedonia. In all five defeats they showed some potential, putting a decent resist, especially at home. Best group teams, Netherlands and Scotland, both hardly won in Reykjavik (and both 2-1). But, also Iceland lost a friendly at home from Faroe Islands (again 1-2). So, much depends from players’ motivation which, I guess, won’t be on the highest level tonight. Last game, last place, I can not see anything positive in their possible thinking, except maybe to make a good performance for the fans. National team coach Olafur Johannesson can not count on skipper (and Portsmouth player) Hermann Hreidarsson, all others are fit and available.

Norway will try to qualify for a final countdown after ten years (last time they were on Euro 2000). They have been facing a lots of problems again, despite the not so strong group where they were considered as the second strongest team (behind the Dutch). After a weak start and draws with Iceland (2-2 at home) and Scotland (0-0 on the road) and home defeat vs. Netherlands (0-1), coach Hareide announced his resignation. His replacement, Egil Olsen, brought some improvements. In his first game on the national team bench, Norway surprisingly defeated Germany (1-0 away) in a friendly. In group, draw in Macedonia (0-0) and predictable defeat in Netherlands (0-2). In last round Norway trashed Scotland at home (4-0) and it was a big boost for a team morale. They’re now again in the race for the 2nd place, but have to make two wins (in last round will host FYR Macedonia). Coach Olsen had some injury worries, Iverssen, Skjelbred and Wisnes had to leave national team because the injuries, but they’re more like a fringe players and best eleven will appear tonight. Carew has been ill for a while, but he’ll play.

Iceland will try to play for the fans and avoid another defeat, but Norway have much more quality and they’re more than motivated. Three points will push them hard to South Africa. Their best players are in late football years and won’t get a second chance. Also good relationship between Scandinavian countries (and national teams) shouldn’t be forgotten. This odd is not too low, it precisely reflects the risk. 1.80 at Expekt. Away win.

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