ULLEVAAL (VG) He has lifted Norway from 83rd to 44th place in the FIFA rankings in three and a half years. But Lars Lagerbäck has struggled to defeat the best nations in the same period.
Serbia arrives in Ullevaal on Thursday night as the world’s 31st best national team according to the FIFA ranking, and a check of the results with equal or better rankings as Norway’s semi-final opponent in the TV 2 broadcast European Championship playoff does not give immediate optimism:
After Lars Lagerbäck’s entry from and including 2017, Norway has met opponents from the “top 31” 11 times. The result is only two wins, five draws and four losses.
– Not good enough, Lars Lagerbäck reacts even when VG presents these figures:
A draw will not take place against Serbia: If the teams are the same distance after the ordinary 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of extra innings and any penalty shootout.
But the draw was the outcome of the matches against Sweden and Romania in the European Championship qualifiers last year. 7-7 over four matches against the competitors for second place did not hold to go to the European Championships as the second best team behind group winner Spain.
– These are matches we will normally win. But there we become passive again. We give away. We are not cynical and smart enough in those fights. Lacks efficiencies in both boxes. It is not more difficult than that, Lagerbäck believes.
No Norwegian national team manager was better against the best nations than Egil Olsen. Especially at home on Ullevaal. Drillo scratched Italy, the Netherlands, England, Brazil, Denmark, France and Portugal.
– I was interested in sticking my finger in the ground and said that we met better players than we have ourselves. It is possible to compensate for lack of skills by being smart. As a height problem, the football professor says at 78 – and starts with a lecture:
– That high pressure on good teams is offensive and attractive, while low is cowardly and defensive, it is a solid misunderstanding. If you lie low and with a pure zone defense, you seal well at the back. Then you can use your strength on counterattacks for all it’s worth. Teams you struggle to create when they are in balance, where you have to focus on transitions and dead ball, says Drillo.
Ødegaard confirms Zidane phone: – Went fast
He becomes a studio expert for licensee TV 2 during the most important Norwegian international match in five years. Already now he offers the assessment of the opponent.
– Serbia is not so good. The last five-six-seven-eight matches have not been very impressive. They are better offensively than defensively, and that they have switched to the back line is never wise, you ask me. I see this as an advantage for Norway. Because then they become more marking-oriented, says Norway’s former national team manager.
– At the Zlatan level
With Erling Braut Haaland, Alexander Sørloth and Martin Ødegaard in all probability on the field from the start, Drillo sees it as unlikely that Norway will not score.
– And then it’s about not letting in goals. At his best, Martin is very good, and the striker pair is also complementary. And Haaland’s finishing skills I have hardly seen before. It is at Zlatan level, says Drillo, who also does not pay much attention to Lagerbäck’s statistics against nations in the top 30 and points out that there are not so many matches.
The national team’s quartet sold for over 900 million: – Really fashionable
Lars Lagerbäck himself believes he can use the numbers as an alarm clock, but also positively.
– We have only lost one match in 2018 and 2019. If those statistics are correct, we will not lose more in 2020 (after the Austria defeat). We are trying to turn in some amateur psychology, says the Swede.