The boss’s main focus: – My responsibility is to win the Nations League


Watch Norway-Romania in the Nations League on Sunday from 17.00 on TV 2 and TV 2 Sumo!

The playoff defeat against Serbia on Thursday must be forgotten as quickly as possible in the Norwegian team, because now two very important Nations League matches await in the next few days.

TV 2 expert on Lagerbäck’s monologue: – It’s a waste

This time, only a group victory in the Nations League is good enough if one is to use the tournament as a backup opportunity for qualification for the World Cup in 2022.

This is also Lars Lagerbäck’s ambition, because the Swede is clear that it is more important for him to win the remaining matches than to use the autumn to give more new players the opportunity.

– You can choose different strategies, but my responsibility and my goal is firstly that we will try to win the Nations League. It will be good for us in the Norwegian national team to do that. It is the best impression we can make before a World Cup qualifier, and also means that you move up a division and get us even more experience from meeting the best players, says the national team manager to TV 2.

This is how the TV 2 expert will see “New Norway” in the Nations League

Both Austria, Romania and Northern Ireland must be placed behind us on the table in group 1 at level B if the Swede is to succeed in that ambition, and again secure a Nations League parachute before the regular World Cup qualifier starts after Christmas. It was the group victory at level C in the previous Nations League group game in the autumn of 2018 that gave Norway this week a chance to go to the European Championships in 2021.

– Now it is very even thanks to the other results, even though we neglected a match against Austria. If we win our matches, we will in all probability win the Nations League group. It may be a mutual result against Austria, so we have to beat them with a little more than they beat us with, Lagerbäck answers TV 2’s question about assessing the possibilities for triumph this time as well.

Norway lost 1-2 at home to Austria in their first match in the Nations League this autumn, but fought back violently and won 5-1 over Northern Ireland in match number two.

  1. Romania, 4 points, 4-3 in goal difference
  2. Austria, 3 points, 4-4 in goal difference
  3. Norway, 3 points, 6-3 in goal difference (behind on mutual settlement)
  4. Northern Ireland, 1 point, 2-6 in goal difference

Lagerbäck about Solbakken: – If the NFF wants my advice, I will show up

There was confusion before the start-up

Prior to the previous national team period in September, and the matches against Austria and Northern Ireland, there was both doubt and confusion about what was actually possible through the Nations League this autumn. TV 2 was even among those who communicated that two extra places in the World Cup playoffs will be awarded the two best ranked nations overall in the Nations League who have neither qualified directly through the World Cup qualifiers nor entered the playoffs as group runners-up.

However, a double check with UEFA confirms that it is the European Football Association’s official wording “It will involve the ten group runners-up plus the best two UEFA Nations League group winners (based on their overall UEFA Nations League rankings) who did not directly qualify or reach the play-offs »* which have always been in force.

Therefore, Norway must win the group if they are to have the opportunity at all to hijack an “extra chance” this time.

Success in the tournament is also extremely important for the seeding when the World Cup qualifying groups are to be drawn later this year.

See fact box at the bottom of the article!

Eight teams got extra chances for a European Championship place without winning the Nations League group

All group winners in next year’s World Cup qualifiers go directly to the championship in Qatar, while all group runners go to the playoffs. The last two places in the playoffs will in any case be awarded to teams that have won their groups in the Nations League, unlike in the European Championship qualifiers last year where you could get such an extra chance by being number two or three at your level as long as you were at one of the highest levels in the Nations League in the autumn of 2018.

This is how we presented the World Cup road before the Nations League start

Both Iceland (number three and last in its group at level A), Slovakia, Ireland, Northern Ireland (all number three and last in their groups at level B), Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary and Romania (all number two in their groups at level C) got an extra EC playoff chance due to the way the tournament was organized in the last.

Now Norway must win, and at the same time hope that all four group winners at level A – who will in any case be a better group winner than those at level B – have already secured either a direct place or a playoff place. At the same time, Norway must ensure that it becomes one of the best group winners at level B.

* UEFA reserves the right that this is UEFA’s recommendation and that it must still be approved by FIFA, which is hosting the championship in 2022. However, UEFA is responsible for the part of the World Cup qualifiers that send the nations to the championship.

See picture for example here. (Can be zoomed in on). In the imagined example, the teams in the green frames have secured World Cup games via qualifiers, and the teams in the red frames secured the playoffs. Thus, the last playoff places – those via the Nations League – go to the teams in blue frames.

INTENDED SCENARIO: This is how a possible distribution of World Cup playoff places can be.

INTENDED SCENARIO: This is how a possible distribution of World Cup playoff places can be. Photo: Screenshot Wikipedia / UEFA

Norway’s calendar continues this autumn, (all matches live on TV 2):

  • October 11, Norway – Romania, Nations League
  • October 14, Norway – Northern Ireland, Nations League
  • November 15, Romania – Norway, Nations League
  • November 18, Austria – Norway, Nations League

Facts about seeding:

Norway is currently the 25th best European nation in the FIFA rankings (which decides seeding before the World Cup qualifiers are drawn in December).

Romania is in 20th place, but it is a short way up. Norway is currently 29 ranking points behind the Romanians, and a victory in mutual settlement tonight will more than halve that distance.

20th place is very important, because then you get in seeding pot 2 instead of 3 in the usual World Cup qualifier. It can be the difference between a World Cup place and a non-World Cup place in the end.

The teams from 1-10 end up in seeding pot 1.
The teams from 11-20 end up in seeding pot 2.
The teams from 21-30 end up in seeding pot 3.

Austria is number 16, Romania 20, Northern Ireland 23.

It is realistic that Norway can pass both Romania and Northern Ireland if we win our Nations League matches.

Watch Norway-Romania in the Nations League on Sunday from 17.00 on TV 2 and TV 2 Sumo!


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