Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Nations League clash between Norway and Sweden, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Scandinavian neighbours Norway and Sweden will lock horns at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo for their fourth League B Group 4 fixture in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday night.
The Blue and Yellow will be seeking revenge against the Lions, after losing 2-1 on home soil in the reverse fixture last week.
Norway were unable to maintain their 100% start to League B Group 4 as they played out a goalless draw at home to Slovenia on Thursday.
Miha Blazic was shown a straight red card just after the hour mark for a late challenge on Erling Braut Haaland, but the Lions could not take advantage of the extra man and were eventually forced to share the spoils.
Nevertheless, Stale Solbakken will have been pleased with his side’s start to their Nations League campaign, as they have picked up seven points from their first three matches and sit one point clear of Serbia at the summit.
Norway, who have only lost one of their last 12 international matches, will be confident heading into Sunday’s game having already beaten Sweden this month. After four successive draws against the Blue and Yellow, a brace from Haaland helped claim all three points for the Lions, who only had 34% possession in Stockholm.
Another victory for Norway would put them in a strong position to secure promotion to League A, which would be their second promotion in three campaigns since the competition began in 2018.
After winning 2-0 against Slovenia in their opening Nations League match, Sweden have since suffered back-to-back defeats against Norway and Serbia.
The Blue and Yellow were condemned to a slender 1-0 loss by the latter on Thursday, with a strike in the third minute of first-half stoppage time from Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic enough for Serbia to claim all three points away from home.
Janne Andersson‘s side, who were relegated from League A of the Nations League in the last campaign, remain in contention for promotion but they currently sit four points behind leaders Norway and Sunday’s clash against their regional rivals could be crucial in determining their fate.
Sweden have failed to win any of their last five meetings with Norway, with their last victory dating back to August 2013 when they won 4-2 at home in a friendly international.
The Blue and Yellow head to Oslo having won only one of their last six away matches – the aforementioned 2-0 win over Slovenia earlier this month – so they will need to be on top of their game if they wish to claim maximum points on Sunday and keep their promotion hopes alive.
Norway Nations League form:
Norway form (all competitions):
Sweden Nations League form:
Sweden form (all competitions):
Norway boss Solbakken may decide to make a couple of changes to freshen up his side, considering the quick turnaround between fixtures.
Both Haaland and Mohammed Elyounoussi are set to retain their places in attack, but Alexander Sorloth could come in for Joshua King, while Morten Thorsby may replace Fredrik Aursnes, joining Martin Odegaard and Sander Berge in centre-midfield.
A back four of Marcus Pedersen, Andreas Hanche-Olsen, Leo Ostigard and Birger Meling is set to remain intact on Sunday, shielding goalkeeper Orjan Nyland.
As for Sweden, they will be without midfield duo Mattias Svanberg and Kristoffer Olsson due to suspension, while centre-back Joakim Nilsson is doubtful after coming off in the first half against Serbia with an injury.
With the likes of Victor Lindelof and Carl Starfelt not involved in the squad due to injury, head coach Andersson may have to call upon Hjalmar Ekdal and Sotirios Papagiannopoulos – who have just five international caps between them – to start at centre-back.
On a more positive note, Sweden will be able to welcome back Tottenham Hotspur winger Dejan Kulusevski from suspension and he is expected to replace either Viktor Claesson or Anthony Elanga.
Emil Krafth is also available for selection after serving a one-match ban last time out, and he could replace Joel Andersson at right-back.
Norway possible starting lineup:
Nyland; Pederson, Hanche-Olsen, Ostigard, Meling; Thorsby, Berge, Odegaard; Sorloth, Haaland, Elyounoussi
Sweden possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Krafth, Ekdal, Papagiannopoulos, Augustinsson; Forsberg, Cajuste, Svanberg; Kulusevski, Isak, Elanga
We say: Norway 3-1 Sweden
While Sweden have talented attacking options who could cause problems for Norway in the final third, we feel that Haaland and co will have plenty of joy against the visitors’ weakened backline.
Andersson’s men cannot really afford to lose on Sunday if they are to keep the promotion hopes alive, but considering the form and firepower that Norway possess, a home victory could be on the cards.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.