Norway’s men’s national football team, fresh from their weekend victory over Malta, still faced a rough road to the European Championships. They’re up against Italy in their last qualifying match for Euro2016 in Rome Tuesday night, meeting a powerhouse national team that has only ever lost one qualifier on home turf.
“I think it’s an incredibly fine challenge,” the upbeat head coach for the Norwegians, Per-Mathias Høgmo, told newspaper Aftenposten in Monday. The assumption, he noted, is that Italy almost never loses at home and the Italian team is inspired after already qualifying for Euro2016. “It’s apparently the most difficult away-game you can get. But we know that,” Høgmo added. “It will be an extremely challenging match.”
Media hype, meanwhile, was flying high, with the same newspaper claiming that “Euro-fever” had swept through “the Norwegian football family.” Around 27,000 fans turned out for Saturday’s match against Malta, which Norway won 2-0.
Now they have to beat a team that won the World Championships in 2006 and made it to the European finals in 2012. It was also unclear whether Norway’s captain, Per Ciljan Skjelbred, who plays professionally for Hertha-Berlin, will be able to play after suffering an injury in Saturday’s match.
The action gets underway at 8:45pm on Tuesday.