The Norway national football team are blessed with some of the best footballers in world football. However, their situation is probably proof that exceptional individuals can’t always deliver success all by themselves.
The Lions faced a case of grim reality in their 1-0 loss to Spain in a crucial Euro 2024 qualifier. Despite taking the fight to La Roja, Stale Solbakken’s side came up empty-handed on the day.
The Norwegian side has an interesting path in the Euro 2024 qualifying group. Placed in a group with Spain, Scotland, Cyprus and Georgia – many fancied them to at least secure a top-two finish.
However, Norway failed to maintain consistency and came up short on a number of vital occasions. Here is how the Lions’ performed in the group stages of the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Spain 3-0 Norway
With Erling Haaland injured, Norway had a tough start to the qualifiers with a difficult game against Spain. La Roja outwitted them at their home yard, getting a compelling 3-0 win thanks to a late brace from Joselu.
Georgia 1-1 Norway
The lack of Haaland was felt again for Norway as they were held to a gutting draw by Georgia. Despite Alexander Sorloth giving them an early lead, a second-half equalizer made them drop key points.
Norway 1-2 Scotland
A late implosion stunned Norway in their first home game of the Euro 2024 qualifying group. Haaland scored a 61st-minute penalty to give them the lead, but two quickfire goals from Scotland in the final minutes helped them go away with a big win.
Norway 3-1 Cyprus
The Lions finally got a win on the board in the qualifying campaign with a 3-1 win over Cyprus. Haaland scored a brace, while Ola Solbakken scored one too.
Norway 2-1 Georgia
Norway got their revenge over Georgia at home, with Haaland and Odegaard’s first-half goals helping them steer their way to a hard-fought win.
Cyprus 0-4 Norway
The Lions ran riot at Cyprus and put them to the sword. Sorloth gave them a first-half lead before a brace from Haalan and a goal from Fredrik Aursnes was enough to inspire a big win.
Norway 0-1 Spain
In a must-win game, the Lions failed to find their best possible form. Spain dominated them and a second-half goal from Gavi was enough to see them hold on and secure Euro 2024 qualification while leaving Norway in tatters.
Of course, with Norway now not guaranteed qualification for Euro 2024, Haaland is earning a lot of criticism for failing to inspire them when needed the most. Even though the forward has scored 27 goals in 28 appearnaces for his national team, some fans feel that he fails to step up in major games and is letting his nation down.
With that being said, not all is yet lost for the Norwegian national team. They have one more game remaining in the Euro 2024 qualification group game (against Scotland) and one they need to win. If they’re able to secure a strong third-place finish in the group, then they could have a chance at a late entry to Euro 2024 via the UEFA Nations League playoffs.
As per this format, four of the best-ranked teams in the UEFA Nations League rankings (who have not qualified for Euro 2024) can get one last chance to get late entry to the competition. The format will see the four teams be separated into two semi-final-style knockout games. The winners of those games will then face off in the final and the ultimate winner qualifies for Euro 2024.
Norway will need to win their final group game in a comprehensive fashion and hope those above them in the Nations League rankings either qualify for Euro 2024 or fall down. Not all hope is lost. But for Erling Haaland & co to help Norway qualify for their first major tournament since Euro 2000, they’ll need help from lady luck and produce their best performances to make that dream a reality.