The Scandinavians’ hopes of finishing in the top two of the group are already over and a play-off spot is now impossible
Norway’s hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2024 were ended by Spain on October 15. And a few days later, their play-off chances were extinguished too. In truth, though, the fatal blow was delivered four months previously. On June 17, Norway suffered a 2-1 loss at home to Scotland from which they never really recovered.
The date of the game was hugely significant because it arrived just one week after the Champions League final in Istanbul, where Manchester City clinched a historic treble with a 1-0 victory over Inter. It was an achievement that sparked wild celebrations among Pep Guardiola’s squad, and Erling Haaland played a full part in the festivities.
He was well within his rights to do that, too. Haaland had played a pivotal part in the treble, breaking the Premier League single-season goals record and finishing as the Champions League’s top scorer. But the Norwegian is renowned for his maturity and professionalism, so he was never going to go ‘full Jack Grealish’ on a party that started in Turkey and ended in England – but featured a quick trip to Ibiza in between.
So, while Scotland assistant coach John Carver quipped ahead of the crunch Group A clash in Oslo that he hoped Haaland was “still partying”, Norway boss Stale Solbakken had no concerns over his main man turning up for a vital qualifier worse for wear.