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2019 World Cup Preview: Norway

Something is missing.

Norway v Netherlands - FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 Qualification Photo by Trond Tandberg/Getty Images

Norway is the team that people think is always going to be a threat, but it’s been awhile since they experienced success. Runners-up to the United States in 1991, Norway felled the U.S. in the semifinals four years later en route to winning the whole thing. Since then, they have two fourth place finishes (1999 and 2007), and 2015’s round of 16 exit at the hand of England was an improvement over failing to get out of the group stage in 2011.

The Team

Coach Martin Sjögren has some talent in his team. One of the most recognizable names on the roster is Caroline Graham Hansen, who has scored 27 goals for Germany’s best club, Wolfsburg, since joining in 2014. That may be changing soon though, as she’s been linked with a move to this season’s Champions League runners-up, Barcelona. She has scored 25 goals for her national team. She’s joined by Chelsea defenders Maria Thorisdottir, and Norway captain, Maren Mjelde.

How They’ve Fared

The 2019 World Cup is the eighth edition, and Norway has never missed one. They won the whole thing in 1995.

How They Qualified

Norway won their qualifying group, beating out the 2017 Euro champions, the Netherlands.

Group

A, with France, South Korea, and Nigeria

Player You Know

Ada Hegerberg is unquestionably the best Norwegian player, but she’s not the best player on the national team. In December she won the first ever Ballon D’or given to a woman, but she effectively retired from national team play in 2017 in an effort to achieve equality between the treatment of women’s soccer and men’s soccer in Norway, a dispute which is about more than just money. So Norway will be without a goalscorer with 130 goals for club and 38 for country, making their odds much longer.

Player You’ll Know Soon

LSK Kvinner’s Guro Reiten may be the one to pick up the goalscoring slack left by Hegerberg’s absence. The 24-year-old has scored 59 goals in 62 games for her club, and she’s capable of this:

She’s one to watch in France.

World Cup Outlook

Even with Ada Hegerberg, I would have put Norway’s ceiling at a quarterfinal berth. Without her, they’re still good enough to get out of the group stage, but I don’t see much beyond that.