Northern Ireland face a must-win UEFA Nations League clash against Norway at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo if they’re to realistically avoid the threat of relegation.
Victory could move Norway top of League B1 whilst Northern Ireland know that a loss coupled with a Romania win would put them on the verge of relegation with just two rounds left.
Norway have no fresh injury concerns to report after Sunday’s four goal win over Romania in which Erling Haaland scored a hattrick and manager, Lars Lagerback could opt to name an unchanged starting lineup in order to maintain momentum.
Northern Ireland have no fresh injury concerns after Sunday’s narrow defeat to Austria as Ian Baraclough prepares to rotate his squad again.
- Norway have won three of five competitive meetings against Northern Ireland in all competitions (W3, L2).
- Northern Ireland have lost both of their two previous away trips to Norway (L2).
- Ireland have lost just one of their last six away trips (W3, D2, L1).
Norway were absolutely brilliant against Romania to make it nine goals in their last two matches which underlines just how tough they will be to beat, whilst the opposing defences need to be wary of Erling Haaland in particular given the youngster’s threat and pace up front.
After a physical defensive performance on Sunday in which Austria constantly battered their back lines with a variety of shots and crosses, Northern Ireland have to come out and show their attacking quality otherwise Norway could inflict a ruthless mauling just like they delivered last month at Windsor Park.
Baraclough therefore needs to to tactically create a strong defensive counter-attack approach otherwise I can just see this Ireland defence getting battered pretty quickly, although fatigue in both teams should at least keep the result somewhat respectable.
Prediction: Norway 2-0 Northern Ireland
Result: Norway 1-0 Northern Ireland