27/12/2019

Norwegians eager to take the last step

EHF EURO 2020 COUNTDOWN #8: Norway. After silver medals at the two latest World Championships, Norway are eager to take the final step to the top of the podium at EHF EURO 2020.

Having won the silver medal at the two latest World Championships, in 2017 and 2019, Norway are eager to take the last step and win the gold medal when co-hosting EHF EURO 2020.

Unlike the success at the latest World Championship, Norway have never won a medal at a European championship and the Scandinavians are very keen to change this fact.

Three questions before the Men’s EHF EURO 2020:

- What can Norway do in a group with France, Portugal and Bosnia Herzegovina?

They will obviously need to watch out for France who will be eager to change their bronze medals from the EURO 2018 and the 2019 World Championship into something finer.

Portugal appear a dangerous opponent at the moment, and Bosnia & Herzegovina always arrive with a fantastic spirit.

However, with the enthusiastic support from the crowd in Trondheim Spektrum, the Norwegians should benefit from the home advantage to finish in the top two and proceed in the tournament.

- Is it realistic to dream of a medal and maybe even of gold this time?

The real test is likely to come when Norway have to move out of their comfort zone and travel to Malmö for the main round.

By now, they should be experienced enough as a team to handle these challenges too, however, and if they avoid injuries on key players, they have the potential to go far, maybe even to the final.

A lot will depend on the answer to the third question, though.

- Is the Norwegian squad deep enough for such a long tournament?

The question might seem irrelevant, considering Norway's performance at the Men's IHF World Championship 2019, where national coach Christian Berge had virtually the same squad at his disposal as this time.It is a fact, however, that Norway depend a lot on their starting seven to do well.

With the right back as a remarkable exception, Berge has relatively few options on his bench. This might turn into a problem as the tournament progresses.

Furthermore, their chances were dealt a blow when team captain Bjarte Myrhol was ruled out, having failed to fully recover from surgery for a stomach infection in November.

Under the spotlight – Sander Sagosen

If Norway are going to have a really successful championship, Sagosen has to be at his best.

The left back and playmaker from Paris Saint-Germain is still Norway’s most important player. His creativity, shooting power and defensive qualities will really be called for again this time.

Self-esteem

Playing at least part of a European championship at home is a once in a lifetime dream for the Norwegian players who will be highly motivated and also spurred on by the enthusiastic home crowd in the preliminary round.

Taking the fond memories from especially the latest World Championship with them, they will turn up confident.

Fun fact

Goalkeeper Torbjørn Bergerud's only problem when leaving Danish TTH Holstebro for SG Flensburg-Handewitt in 2018 was saying goodbye to some particularly delicious meatballs from a specific butcher in Holstebro. He is reported to have got over that by now, though. 

What the numbers say

8,000 spectators will be enjoy each of Norway’s preliminary round matches in the Trondheim Spektrum. The Norwegians may expect enthusiastic support from the vast majority of them, which should help them proceed successfully in the tournament.

written by Peter Bruun / cor