September 7th 2010
Norway defeated Iceland after coming from a goal behind to set themselves on the right path towards the Euro 2012 qualification and Egil Olsen’s side would now probably settle for a point against Portugal. The Seleccao were held to a shock 4:4 draw at home by Cyprus and anything but a win in Norway would be regarded as a failure.
Norway were always going to have a difficult task at Iceland and they looked to be heading for a defeat after Iceland completely outplayed them in the first period and took the lead through Helguson. Nonetheless, Egil Olsen’s side upped the pace in the second period and managed to level the score through Brede Hangeland just before the hour mark, before Mohammed Abdellaoue scored to bring his side three invaluable points. While the win in a very difficult away game will serve as a confidence boost, the truth is team’s performance was far from impressive and Norway will have to show a massive improvement in order to stop Portugal from winning. To add insult to injury, John Arne Riise has picked up an injury in training that will rule him out of this match, although John Carew could be back in contention after recovering from injury.
Portugal’s poor showings somehow coincided with Carlos Querioz’s arrival to the help and maybe it’s a good thing he is banned from coaching the national team for six months over a doping row. His assistant Agostinho Oliveira haven’t had the best of starts as his side could only muster a 4:4 draw at home to Cyprus after conceding almost every time their opponents crossed the half way line. Even without Ronaldo, the Portuguese seem to have no problems in the scoring department, so if they just manage to keep things tight at the back, the win in Norway would become a reality. With players like Bruno Alves and Ricardo Carvalho at the back, the 4:4 draw with Cyprus looks like a one-off result and things should look much better in this game. With Fabio Coentrao missing the game through injury, Miguel Veloso looks likely to start at left-back and that will add even more creativity to Portugal’s attacks.
Norway are clearly the underdogs here, especially after the poor performance in Iceland and while they are set to adopt a counterattacking tactics, it is unlikely they’ll be able to stop Portugal’s star-studded attack. The Portuguese are not playing their best football yet but even the current form should suffice against Norway.
Verdict: Away win Portugal (2)
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