After a disastrous start under new coach Nils Johan Semb, Norway won
their remaining 7 games to qualify comfortably ahead of 2nd placed
Slovenia. Friendly form has been good.
Tore Andre Flo - It's been said before but it's worth repeating, for the
majority of European clubs Flo would be an automatic starter but at
Chelsea he is part of the squad rotation system. Sensational technique for
such a huge player and a great finisher but lacks aggression
Solskjaer - Super sub at Man United but a certain starter for Norway. Like
Flo, awesome technique, clinical finisher but sometimes misses absolute
Iversen - In my opinion he's better then Solskjaer, tremendous finisher and
also creates chances for his team-mates but is injury prone
Berg - He's a great tackler but has zero pace which means he'll get shamed
by speedy forwards
Carew - World Class potential, a mountain of a man with scary pace
but takes the art of missing 100% chances to new levels
Qualifying for major international tournaments is becoming a habit for
Norway. This is an experienced team with a superb attack and plenty of
quality in midfield but the defence lack pace and none of the key defenders
have had good domestic seasons. Norway need to overcome the stage fright
that has plagued them in the past two World Cups. Like group rivals Spain
are capable of going far if the belief is there.
Made the most of an easy group to finish behind Norway and then stunned the
World with victory over the Ukraine in the play-offs.
No one really knows much about the team. Not filled with household names
but Katanec was very successful at club level despite being limited
technically, the team will draw on his incredible drive and determination
but they couldn't have asked for a tougher birth at international level.
Katanec has the makings of a great club coach.
Camacho took over following a humiliating defeat against Cyprus and
Spain didn't look back, winning their remaining games and scoring an
outrageous 39 goals in the process. Excellent form in friendlies.
Mendieta - Outstanding for Valencia in the champions league, a tireless
worker with tremendous technique and an eye for goal
Raul - Joint top scorer in the Champions League, explosive pace, awesome
technique and a regular scorer of spectacular goals
Hierro - No pace, has started to make hospital passes at an alarming
Guardiola - While his range of passing is great also has no pace which
is a distinct problem in such a key area
Should have gone to the Low Countries : Campo, Karanka & Morientes
Should have stayed home : Hierro (Real Madrid), Alfonso (always injured)
Confidence will be sky high following a hugely successful season for Spanish
clubs. The is by far the most gifted Spanish team of the last decade, oozing
quality and depth in every department but the decision to omit Campo and
Karanka who formed a World Class partnership in the Champions league
for Real Madrid (don't laugh) seems insane, especially as Hierro is such a
liability in defence. They have the talent to win the tournament and win in
style but will they finally overcome their trademark stage fright?
Qualified from a tough group but only just. Recent form has been poor.
There are too many players past their sell by dates. Yugoslavia are
dependent on Mihajlovic's long balls (oooerr!) and delivery from set pieces.
The defence isn't great and despite being plagued by injuries, Jugovic remains
the team's most consistent midfielder. The supposedly great prospect
Dejan Stankovic has shown little at Lazio other than a handful of spectacular
long range goals. Millosevic and Kovacevic don't convince at this level
meaning Yugoslavia will once again look to the hugely gifted by aging
Mijatovic in attack. Yugoslavia will do well to qualify from a tough group.
Overall : Spain and Norway are clear favourites, like that means anything!