Norway v Scotland, 2010 World Cup qualifier, August 12, 2009
You would be hard pressed to argue Scotland’s match with Norway looks like being a classic.
The downturn which has affected Scottish and Norwegian international football appears to have followed a similar trend. Back in the day the Scots used to rule the footballing world, particularly in England, where Dalglish, Hansen and Souness were all-powerful. The Norwegians similarly used to have a stable presence in the English game, with the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Henning Berg, Tore Andre Flo and Erik Thorstvedt all plying their trade in Blighty.
Nowadays though the gravy train has slowed down dramatically, with both nations forced to rely on players from the lower levels of world football to bulk-up their squad.
The good news for Scotland is that after five matches the Norwegians have yet to win a 2010 World Cup qualifying match.
The Scandinavians prop up Group 9 after an uninspiring three draws and two defeats in their first five outings, backed by a miserable record of two goals in the scored column. But, with Holland (7 wins from 7) running away with the group there is still an outside chance that Norway can turn their qualification around. To do so, a win against the Scots is a must.
With John Carew (6/4 to score), Thorstein Helstad (7/4 to score) and Steffen Iversen leading the line, Norway’s tactics appear to be based on simple up-and-under rules. Balls will be hurled into the mixer by Morten Gamst Pedersen, while the Riise brothers - John and Bjorn - should also line up in the starting XI.
Scotland’s recent away form flags up that George Burley’s team are no great shakes away from Hampden Park. They lost 1-nil in Macedonia last September and were easily beaten 3-nil by the Dutch back in March. On the upside though the Tartan Army did overcome Iceland last autumn, while on their last visit to Olsoback in 2005 the Scots walked away as 2-1 winners.
Winning on Wednesday though appears a tall order for the Scots. Missing from action are regulars Craig Gordon, Stephen McManus, Gary Naysmith, James Morrison and Barry Robson.
Up-top, Ross McCormack (2/1 to score), Kenny Miller (9/4 to score) and James McFadden will hope to be picked from the start, while the midfield should see Scott Brown, Barry Ferguson and Darren Fletcher all line up from the off.
A dour game is in prospect (a goalless draw is 13/2), with one goal for either side potentially proving the difference.
101predicts: Norway 1 - Scotland 0 (5/1)
Full match odds here.
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