How did they make the play-offs?
Norway went into qualifying as third favourites, behind Italy and Croatia, and that’s exactly how the table shaped up. A good start with nine points from a possible 12 put Norway in the running for automatic qualification. However, a heavy 5-1 defeat to Croatia, followed up by a disappointing home draw to Azerbaijan dented their chances. Landslaget avenged their big defeat by beating Croatia 2-0 and winning their next three games, with the second qualifying spot going down to the last game. Defeat by Italy in Rome though meant the Norwegians had to settle for third place, despite topping the table at one point in the game, before conceding two late goals to the Azzurri.
Have they ever qualified for the Euros?
Norway are slight strangers to major competitions, having only ever qualified for three. The only European Championship they have previously entered was Euro 2000 in Belgium and Holland, where they crashed out in the group stage, recording a win, a draw and a loss. They will be disappointed not to have qualified, but with some good young players coming through, such as Mats Moller Daehli and Real Madrid wonder-kid Martin Odegaard, the future seems bright for the Scandinavians.
Who’s their man in charge?
Having worked around the national team for most of his coaching career, Per-Mathias Hogmo will be hoping his experience can inspire his side to reach next years finals. In charge at youth levels for nearly 10 years, the 55-year-old was also the coach of the Norwegian women’s side, and so he knows what is required to play for the country, despite only earning one cap himself.
Who’s their star man?
Norwich City midfield general, Alex Tettey, has also been the star man for his country in this qualifying campaign. His country’s top scorer in the group with three goals, Tettey only missed one game through injury. The 27-year-old gave his side hope of finishing top with the opening goal against Italy, but Landslaget couldn’t hold on. Norway will also be happy with Bournemouth youngster Joshua King, as he managed to bag two goals and one assist.
Will they be seen as a big threat?
Norway have a mix of both experience and youth throughout their squad, which will be hugely important going into the play-offs. They don’t have big name players John Arne-Riise or John Carew anymore, but with some influential figures such as Morten Gamst Pedersen and captain Per Ciljan Skjelbred passing on their experience to the likes of Odegaard and King, they will stand a chance. It may be a year too soon for the Scandinavians, but expect them to be challenging to World Cup 2018 qualification.