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Preview: Norway vs. Spain - predictions, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the Euro 2020 Group F qualifier between Norway and Spain at the Ullevaal Stadion on Saturday, including team news, predictions and predicted lineups.

Spain travel to the Ullevaal Stadion on Saturday for a qualifier with Norway knowing that victory would all but seal their place at Euro 2020.

They come up against a Norway side who will feel that getting points on the board against La Roja and away at Romania this month is absolutely crucial for their chances of reaching their first major tournament since 2000.

Match preview

Robert Moreno takes Spain training on September 4, 2019© Reuters

Spanish football was rocked last month by the shocking news of manager Luis Enrique's daughter passing away, with the former Barcelona manager leaving his role as national team boss in July to spend more time with his family.

Enrique, who had assumed the position in the wake of Spain's disastrous 2018 World Cup, oversaw a perfect start to the qualification process for Euro 2020, with his last two games producing three-goal victories over Sweden and the Faroe Islands.

Indeed, Spain's last defeat came almost a year ago in the form of a 3-2 loss at the hands of World Cup finalists Croatia, with England also recording a famous win in Seville back in October 2018.

Under new boss Robert Moreno, however, it has been plain sailing for Spain, who claimed important wins over Romania in Bucharest - their hardest game of the qualifying stage - and the Faroe Islands in the 42-year-old's first pair of competitive games last month.

Moreno will know that another pair of victories against Norway and Sweden would enable him to field a more experimental, youthful outfit when Spain welcome Malta and Romania for the final two qualifiers in November, giving exciting youngsters like Ansu Fati a chance to establish themselves ahead of next year's finals.

Joshua King of Norway celebrates with teammates after converting a penalty in his side's Euro 2020 qualifier against Spain on March 23, 2019© Reuters

Norway, on the other hand, do not have the same luxury, with Lars Lagerback's side two points behind second-placed Sweden ahead of an ominous meeting with Spain and a trip to Romania next week.

Defeat in both of those games, combined with Sweden winning in Malta and beating Spain at home, would all but kill Norway's chances of reaching the European Championships - something they have not done since the days of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, John Carew and John Arne Riise in 2000.

Interestingly enough, Norway's last victory at a major tournament came in the form of a 1-0 victory over Spain in 2000, with Steffen Iversen scoring a famous winning goal which is viewed as on par with Kjetil Rekdal's 89th minute penalty to beat Brazil in the 1998 World Cup and secure the country's place in the knockout phase of a competition for the first time in 60 years.

More recently, however, Norway's performances against the top sides - a useful indicator for the health of any national team - have been deeply underwhelming. The Scandinavians were top seed for their World Cup 2014 qualifying group but ended up finishing fourth, while their last win against a 'top' team dates back to 2015, when they beat Croatia 2-0 in Oslo.

That said, pressure can often get the best out of top athletes, and with Norway boasting the highly discussed brilliance of youngster Martin Odegaard, whose form for Real Sociedad this season has reportedly prompted top clubs to sit up and take notice, along with talents such as Erling Braut Haaland and Sander Berge, perhaps we are witnessing the emergence of a brighter generation capable of qualifying for major tournaments.

Recent Norway form: LDDWWD
Recent Spain form: WWWWWW

Team News

Marco Asensio is stretchered off on July 23, 2019© Reuters

Spain continue to be without talented Real Madrid youngster Marco Asensio, who suffered severe knee ligament damage over the summer and is not expected to make a return until 2020.

They could also be without Dani Ceballos, with the Arsenal loanee encountering hamstring problems on Wednesday, while Jordi Alba and Nacho are both ruled out.

Jose Gaya, Spain's first-choice left-back in recent times, is also set to miss out due to hamstring strain picked up last month.

For Norway, Odegaard looks set to feature in behind King and Haaland, but the home side will be without the experienced Tore Reginiussen after the defender suffered a shoulder injury.

Norway possible starting lineup:
Jarstein; Ellabdellaoui, Nordtveit, Hovland, Aleesami; Selnaes, Berge, Johansen, Odegaard; King, Haaland
Spain possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Hermoso, Torres; Busquets, Rodri, Alcantara; Sarabia, Rodrigo, Alcacer

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We say: Norway 1-2 Spain

The likes of Odegaard and Haaland, buoyed by the home support, are likely to cause Spain a few early problems in Oslo, and should nick a goal against a side which conceded to the Faroe Islands not too long ago.

However, you suspect that the quality of the Spanish midfield will be enough to ultimately steer the game in the direction of Moreno's men, who will be keen to seal their spot at Euro 2020 as quickly as possible.


Who will win Saturday's Euro 2020 qualifier between Norway and Spain?

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Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong celebrates scoring their second goal with Anssumane Fati on September 14, 2019
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