Norway head into the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 tournament in the Netherlands with significant pedigree in the competition. ‘The Grasshoppers’, as they’re know at home, have won the tournament on two previous occasions in 1987 and 1993. Now under the guidance of Martin Sjögren, Norway will be keen to make it a hat-trick of European titles this summer.
Norway will be expected to progress to the quarter finals after being drawn in Group A with Belgium, Denmark and hosts the Netherlands. Indeed, it will be Norway facing up against the hosts in the opening game of the tournament on the 16th July.
16th July, 17:00 – Netherlands vs Norway, Utrecht
20th July, 19:45 – Norway vs Belgium, Breda
24th July, 19:45 – Norway vs Denmark, Deventer
Quarter Finals: 29th and 30th July
Semi Finals: 3rd August
Final: 6th August
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Ada Hegerberg – Lyon
21 year-old Ada Hegerberg is one of Norway’s brightest young talents. Having scored an impressive ten goals in qualifying, there will be a lot of pressure on the young striker’s shoulders to deliver the goods in what will be her second major international tournament.
Hegerberg is a prolific finisher, and opposition defenders will be dreading the prospect of facing the striker who has scored a remarkable 59 goals in 43 games since joining Lyon in 2014. If Norway are to progress as far as their playing potential suggests they can, then Hegerberg will need to be firing on all cylinders.
Maren Mjelde – Chelsea
If Hegerberg represents youth and inexperience then Maren Mjelde is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Despite only being 27 years old, Mjelde has already amassed over 100 caps for the national side, which she now captains. A hard-hitting centre half, Mjelde will take no prisoners on her quest for international success.
Having signed for Chelsea last year, Mjelde has joined a team with a winning mentality and a taste for success, and Norway manager Martin Sjögren will be hoping she can bring those winning attributes to the national side.
Isabell Herlovsen – Jiangsu Suning FC
Alongside Hegerberg in the Norwegian strikeforce is 28 year-old Isabell Herlovsen. Now playing in Japan for Jiangsu Suning FC, Herlovsen has racked up over 50 goals for her country and will be keen to add to that tally in the Netherlands this summer.
Calm and skilful on the ball, Herlovsen can provide the composure needed to temper the explosive dynamism of her younger strike partner Hegerberg. The pair scored a combined 17 goals in qualifying, accounting for over half of Norway’s total goals scored, and will be a force to be reckoned with for any defence.
THE MANAGER – MARTIN SJÖGREN
40 year-old Martin Sjögren is a coach who has worked his way up to the top of the women’s game. A reasonably low-profile figure in his playing days, where he graced the likes of IF Halmia, IFK Värnamo and Växjö BK, Sjögren went into management without the kind of playing career that would see him comfortably slide into a coaching role.
Having coached in the women’s game for over 13 years now, Sjögren’s greatest achievement came in 2016 when he guided Swedish side Linköpings FC to the Damallsvenskan title. It was this success that led Sjögren to be approached about managing the national side, and this summer’s European Championships will be his first major tournament as an international coach.
PATH TO THE FINALS
Norway were impressive in qualification, finishing top of Group 8 with an unbeaten record. It was the Norwegian’s defence that was most impressive, keeping a clean sheet in seven of the eight qualifiers. However, the ‘Grasshoppers’ also showcases their attacking threat with a whopping 10-0 triumph over Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan 0 – 4 Norway
Norway 4 – 0 Wales
Israel 0 – 1 Norway
Austria 0 – 1 Norway
Norway 2 – 2 Austria
Wales 0 – 2 Norway
Norway 10 – 0 Kazakhstan
Norway 5 – 0 Israel
PREVIOUS RECORD AT INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS
Norway’s golden era in the women’s game was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where the team won two European Championships, in 1987 and 1993 and the World Cup in 1995. Since that time though, the Norwegians have struggled to get over the winning line at the business end of tournaments. The Grasshoppers have been European Championship runners-up in two of the last three editions of the tournament, losing out in the final to Germany in 2005 and 2009. Indeed, the side put on a poor showing in the 2015 World Cup in Canada, crashing out in the Last 16 at the hands of an in-form England side.
DOMESTIC WOMEN’S LEAGUE IN NORWAY
The top level of women’s football in Norway is the aptly named Toppserien, which is comprised of twelve teams from across the country. Trondheims-Ørn hold the record for most titles, having won the league on seven occasions. Asker lie closely behind on six titles, and these two sides are generally considered the top two teams in the country.
On paper, Norway have an exceptionally strong squad capable of beating anyone in the tournament. It will be interesting to see whether the team can shake off the disappointment of losing out in those two European finals. Indeed, the team has a lot to prove after the disappointment of the last World Cup, but if Ada Hegerberg plays to the potential we all know she possesses, then Norway will be a force to reckoned with this summer without doubt.