Group B team preview: Norway
Group B: Germany | Ivory Coast | Norway | Thailand
Can Norway rebound from its group-stage exit from 2011?
The serial qualifiers methodically took care of business en route to a 2015 Women's World Cup berth. Norway's only defeat in 10 UEFA qualifying games was a 2-0 loss against the Netherlands, and that was only after it had already secured first place in its group. While Norway went 6-1-0 in World Cup qualifiers during the 2014 calendar year, it managed just a 2-4-2 record in all other games in that time frame, including four losses in the Algarve Cup to China, Iceland, Germany and Russia.
World Cup History
A look at how Norway has fared in past World Cup tournaments:
If you're going to be known for something, you might as well own it. And while a direct style of play isn't the most glamorous footballing image to project, Norway has derived a great deal of success by mastering it. Current coach Even Pellerud used it when he led Norway to a World Cup title in 1995 during his first stint in charge. He implemented a similar style when he coached Canada, where national players credited Pellerud with turning them into a truly competitive program. After Norway exited in group play of the 2011 World Cup and failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, the program lured Pellerud home.
High and Wide
Norway's issue in the 2011 Cup was putting shots on target. Only 10 of its 50 shots were on frame. The result: two goals in all, and an early exit.
Is this team still elite as it builds a new young core around familiar names like Solveig Gulbrandsen and Trine Ronning? Lately the team has had a ceiling that stops short of teams like Germany, Japan, the United States and even neighbor Sweden. Mixing old and young worked well two years ago in Norway's run to the Euro 2013 final, which included a group-stage win against the German team that eventually won it all. But marquee wins have been few and far between.
Norway is expected to use a 4-2-3-1 lineup:
Norway's first two matches will be at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa, while the final match will be held at Moncton Stadium:
• June 7: Thailand, 1 p.m. ET
• June 11: Germany, 4 p.m. ET
• June 15: Ivory Coast, 4 p.m. ET
Norway, which should finish second to Germany in the group, will be interesting to watch. Even Pellerud is on his second spell as the Norwegian coach; the program hopes he can return it to the glory of 1995, when he led the team to the World Cup title in his first stint.