This article is part of the Guardian’s Women’s Euro 2022 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organisations from the 16 countries who have qualified. theguardian.com is running previews from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament kicking off on 6 July.
“I might have been called a football romantic by people on the outside,” the national team coach, Martin Sjögren says, “and I must admit that I am attracted to the attacking part of the game. My philosophy is, if you have to categorise it, an attacking one.”
That is in contrast to Norwegian teams of the past – men’s and women’s – and Sjögren’s style of football isdemanding, but also very exciting. In qualifying Norway played only six of their eight games (the last two were cancelled because of the pandemic) but still topped their group, winning all six, scoring 34 goals in the process and conceding one.
Over his five years as the Norway coach, Sjögren has mainly stayed loyal to variations of his 4-4-2 system. At the Algarve Cup last February, the Swede did try out three central defenders in matches against Portugal and Italy, but quickly reverted to a line of four defenders and has stuck to that since. He now feels that he has the flexibility within his squad to make tactical changes throughout matches and during a long tournament.
Sjögren hopes that having the star duo of Caroline Graham Hansen and Ada Hegerberg available up front will mean that Norway do this time what they failed to do in 2017: score goals. He will also be delighted to have the captain Maren Mjelde back in the squad after a long injury absence. The 32-year-old truly is the heart, soul and leader of Norway’s defence.
There is, however, a big question surrounding the goalkeeper position. With the first choice, Cecilie Fiskerstrand, out with a ruptured ACL the position is now completely open. Guro Pettersen, Aurora Mikalsen and Sunniva Skoglund are all viable options.
As the squad was announced, Sjögren and Mjelde said that the aim was to reach the semis. “We have a championship ahead of us where there are five, six, seven teams that could win,” Sjögren has said. “That is what makes the Euros so special. We’re not in the top three but I would say we’re an outsider behind the biggest nations.”