Norway Aims to Make an Impact in the World Cup Following Disappointing Euros
Former World Cup champions Norway enter this year’s tournament with renewed determination after their disheartening exit from the 2022 European Championship. The team’s early departure from Group A, marked by a devastating 8-0 loss to England, still lingers in their minds. In the aftermath, Swedish coach Martin Sjogren resigned, paving the way for Norwegian Hege Riise to take charge.
Reflecting on the emotional impact of the previous tournament, Riise expressed uncertainty about the players’ state of mind when she and her coaching staff assumed their roles. However, with Riise’s experience as a key player in Norway’s victorious 1995 World Cup team, expectations are high for her to lead the nation back to its former glory.
During World Cup qualification, Norway showcased their prowess by winning nine out of ten matches. However, their form has faltered since then, with only one victory in five games played in 2023. This slump has raised concerns about the team’s peak performance and unresolved defensive issues that have haunted them in previous tournaments. Riise has a talented squad at her disposal, including Ada Hegerberg, the first-ever recipient of the women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, who plays as a striker for Olympique Lyonnais.
Hegerberg’s return to the national team in 2022 after a five-year absence adds further firepower, although a recent injury scare necessitates her return to full fitness to fulfill Norway’s aspirations. She can be paired with Caroline Graham Hansen, who achieved Champions League success with Barcelona.
Winger Guro Reiten from Chelsea and midfielder Frida Maanum from Arsenal provide additional quality in support of Hegerberg and Graham Hansen.
Since August of the previous year, Riise has placed a significant emphasis on fortifying the team’s defensive structure. The experienced 33-year-old captain, Maren Mjelde, will play a pivotal role as a center-back or defensive midfielder. Norway is widely considered the favorite in Group A, with Switzerland being their main competitor. However, the hosts, New Zealand, should not be underestimated as the tournament’s opening opponents on July 20. Norway will also face the Philippines.
Failure to progress to the knockout stage would be a significant disappointment for one of the women’s game’s former powerhouses.