Around 22,500 tickets had already been sold by Monday morning for the evening’s “private” football match in Oslo between the national men’s teams of Norway and Sweden. That’s a lot for Ullevaal Stadium in the Norwegian capital, with many clearly keen to see each country’s stars in action: Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Sweden and young Morten Ødegaard of Norway.
Zlatan was avoiding reporters after arriving in Oslo and training at Ullevaal on Sunday. He sent out a message, though, that he had no clear opinion about 16-year-old Ødegaard, who became the youngest player ever to play in a national match and later join top club Real Madrid.
Zlatan, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, said he’d never seen Ødegaard play, but was expected to on Monday evening. Both he and Ødegaard were viewed as “central players” for a match that’s a warm-up for each side’s upcoming European qualifiers: Norway meets Azerbaijan on Friday and Sweden faces Montenegro on Sunday.
The last time Norway and Sweden met for a match was at the Friends Arena outside Stockholm two years ago, and it did not end well for the Norwegians. Zlatan scored two of Sweden’s four goals, beating Norway 4-2. The two teams have not met in either a European Championship- or World Cup qualifier for the past 38 years.