International football returns this week with the beginning of the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League, and Friday sees a showdown in Group 1 of League B between Norway and Austria.
The game takes place in Oslo and will be played behind closed doors due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the winners of this group set to be promoted into League A of the Nations League for the 2022-23 edition, both sides will be looking to get off to a fast start.
Norway vs Austria: Head-to-Head
The last time we saw any international teams in action was back in late 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and wrote off the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs.
Norway had qualified for those play-offs after winning their 2018-19 Nations League group, and will eventually play Serbia to determine whether they will make the tournament or not.
Overall, Lars Lagerback’s side were in decent form in the latter part of 2019, going six games unbeaten, with wins over Malta and the Faroe Islands and draws against Sweden, Spain and Romania.
Austria, meanwhile, were able to qualify for Euro 2020 by finishing second in their group behind Poland. Their form in late 2019 was also strong, although they saw a seven-match unbeaten streak snapped by Latvia in a bit of an upset last November.
The two sides have faced each other on 10 occasions in the past, dating all the way back to 1934. Austria have beaten Norway on six occasions, but the most recent game between the two – a friendly in 2002 – saw Norway run out 1-0 winners.
Norway form guide: D-D-D-W-W
Austria form guide: D-W-W-W-L
Norway vs Austria Team News
Norway have been able to include all of their big hitters in this squad, including Erling Haaland, Joshua King, Sander Berge and Martin Odegaard. However, Hoffenheim’s Havard Nordtveit – who has 52 caps for Norway – is out with a broken foot.
Injured: Havard Nordtveit
Austria will be without a number of recently capped stars due to injuries – including Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, who has been rested due to a groin problem. Other players missing from the current squad include Marko Arnautovic, Valentino Lazaro and Alessandro Schopf.
Injured: David Alaba, Valentino Lazaro, Florian Kainz, Konrad Laimer, Alessandro Schopf
Norway vs. Austria Predicted XI
Norway predicted XI (4-4-1-1): Rune Jarstein, Omar Elabdellaoui, Even Hovland, Kristoffer Ajer, Haitam Aleesami, Stefan Johansen, Martin Odegaard, Sander Berge, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Joshua King, Erling Haaland
Austria predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Alexander Schlager, Stefan Lainer, Martin Hinteregger, Philipp Lienhart, Andreas Ulmer, Julian Baumgartlinger, Florian Grillitsch, Xaver Schlager, Christoph Baumgartner, Marcel Sabitzer, Adrian Grbic
Norway vs. Austria Prediction
This should be a tight game as both sides have plenty of attacking potential and are arguably on a similar level right now.
After qualifying for Euro 2020, Austria should come into the game with a great deal of confidence, but the fact that they’re missing a number of key players while Norway appear to have a full-strength squad will probably be concerning to them.
With 20-year-old Erling Haaland – who scored 13 goals in 15 games for Borussia Dortmund after arriving there – in terrifying form right now, it’s hard not to lean towards a Norwegian victory here.
Prediction: Norway 2-1 Austria