September 3rd 2010
The two teams were placed in the same group during the World Cup qualifiers with both games between the teams ending in entertaining draws. This time, both Iceland and Norway will be looking to come on top of this Nordic derby, because with Portugal and Denmark also in their group every point can be extremely important.
Some few years ago Eidur Gudjohnsen was the only Icelandic player who you might have heard of, but with the increasing number of Icelanders moving to bigger European leagues, they now have a bunch of very good players in the squad. Nevertheless, the national team are still unable to realize their full potential and challenge for the place at a big tournament as they seem to lack balance in the side. Players like Hreidarsson and Gudjohnsen are clearly well past their prime, while a couple of others are still too inexperienced and that is the main reason why Iceland are still considered to be one of the weaker sides in Europe. The team usually play well at home but being too inconsistent, you never know which side will turn up and they are likely to have problems against superior Norway team.
Norway had a dismal start to their World Cup qualifying campaign but the team ended the campaign on a high even though they failed to make it to the play-offs. The Scandinavians beat Scotland 4:0 and Macedonia 2:1, while drawing at Iceland in their last three games and that served as a big confidence boost before the start of the new qualifying campaign. Egil Olsen’s side continued with good performances in warm-up games, having beaten Switzerland, Slovakia, Montenegro and France, while losing only to Ukraine, and everything suggests the boss has done a great job since taking over in January 2009. The confidence is high at Norway camp as the whole nation believes the team are ready to prove their worth and not even John Carew’s injury should prevent the visitors from imposing themselves on the game.
Iceland have hardly been impressive at home lately and their inconsistency can prove to be a real problem, especially now when the season has just started. Norway players are high on confidence after beating France a month ago and they definitely have the quality to beat their neighbors.
Verdict: Away win Norway (2)
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