Who will advance to the semi-finals?
If Norway plays the way they did against South Korea, they will be very difficult to defeat. Dagny Mellgren, the all-time leading scorer in WUSA history, and Marianne Pettersen, the leading scorer in Norway's domestic league the past two seasons, have developed some great chemistry playing together.Jeff said:Who will advance to the semi-finals?
Norway might also have a little momentum on their side. The Americans have met the Norwegians more times than any other country and Norway holds a slight edge against the U.S. The Norwegians can also lay claim to having a 2-1 edge in big games. The Scandinavians lost to the United States in the China 1991 Final, but beat the Americans in the semi-finals of Sweden 1995 and in the 2000 Olympics. Despite the numbers, the Norwegians are major underdogs Wednesday, something Steen said could be another factor in their favour.
“We have never been the favourite when we play the U.S We are always the underdog,” Steen said, “I think everyone is an underdog when they play the U.S. But it’s good for us. It means we can just go out and play. Of course, this is a big game, but the real pressure is on them.”
The Scandinavians too see the importance of their quarter-final clash with the U.S. and will be looking to knock off the hosts in dramatic fashion.
“There has always been a rivalry against the U.S. since we have been the No. 1 and No. 2 teams,” said Hege Riise, veteran of every FIFA Women’s World Cup and World Champion at Sweden 1995. “We want to beat each other. You need that passion and physicality on the field and the emotion, so when people watch the game, they’ll say, ‘Wow, that’s a good game. They put their best effort into it.’”
The rivalry is not always a friendly one, as the U.S. like to throw their weight around and the battling Norwegians are one of the most physically imposing and direct female football sides around.
“When we play the U.S., it’s always hard and physical,” Riise added. “You never know what will happen.
To beat the U.S. we need to have Dagny (Mellgren) and Marianne (Pettersen) at their best up front and we need to have Bente at her best and the rest of us just have to be proud and not let anyone beat you. I think it is that simple.
I also think we need to learn from the Brazil game and remember how we felt after it. We had a meeting the morning after the game to go through the things that were good and we tried not to focus too much on the things we didn’t do or should have done. Sometimes a game comes along and it’s not that you’re worse than the team but it’s that things don’t go your way. Of course, against Brazil a lot of things didn’t go our way. It was every single player at the same time. But we took all the frustration after the game and turned it into something positive. It got us to be more aggressive. We wanted to tell everyone back home that we are much better than we played.
Thanks for the reminder about the Olympics.nordby1 said:In today's match Norway will also have the extra motivation of qualifying for the 2004 Olympics. If as expected Sweden loses to Brazil in the first quarterfinal match, Norway will take the pitch knowing that a victory today will earn Norway a spot in the Olympics, but most important of all, the Swedes will be eliminated.
Actually it was mentioned yesterday in the Norwegian media that there would be a playoff in April between Norway, Sweden, and Russia or Germany if the two UEFA spots could not be determined during the WC.Jeff said:Thanks for the reminder about the Olympics.
UEFA gets two spots in the Olympics, and rather than have a qualifying tournament, they will send the two best teams from the World Cup. Right now it's between Germany, Sweden and Norway.
If both Norway and Sweden are eliminated in the QF's, the one with the better record in the Group round will go to the Olympics. Both had 6 points in their Group play, but Norway's goal difference will give them the nod.