Norway more dangerous than they seem

Unlike Israel, the Scandinavians aren’t approaching the tournament believing they are underdogs.

June 3, 2013 23:40
1 minute read.
UEFA Under 21 Championships set to kick off in Israel

UEFA Under 21 Championships 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

With matches against powerhouses Italy and England to come, there’s a sense that Israel must win its showdown with Norway in the European Under-21 Championship opener in Netanya on Wednesday to have any chance of progressing to the semifinals.

Only the top two sides in each of the two groups will advance to the last four, and on paper, Norway seems like the team Israel is most likely to beat.

However, unlike Israel, the Scandinavians aren’t approaching the tournament believing they are underdogs and according to Norwegian journalist Magnus Aarre of newspaper ABC Nyheter there is even talk of the team winning the tournament.

“Norway is much better than people think,” Aarre told the Post. “Expectations are high – some players and pundits are even talking of going all the way. The key to success will lie in their ability to work as a unit. If they succeed in doing that, they might well surprise a whole lot of people.”

Norway stunned France 5- 4 on aggregate in the playoffs for a place in the tournament in Israel and its squad boasts the likes of Manchester United youth department products Wolff Eikrem, currently at Molde, and Joshua King (Blackburn), as well as rising stars Valon Berisha (Red Bull Salzburg) and Håvard Nordtveit (Borussia Monchengladbach).

Nordtveit and King are unlikely to play against Israel due to their involvement with the senior national side, but according to Aarre, Norway is still anticipated to win on Wednesday.

“Norway will be missing some key players because of commitments with the senior side, but they’ll still be expected to beat the Israelis,” he said. “A good start to the tournament is paramount if Norway is to be successful.”

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