– In the process of change

– In the process of change

Oscar Popp (TV) and Erling Braut Haaland are two of 78 Norwegians on a very positive list, through Norwegian eyes. Photograph: Kim Kyung-hoon/Reuters/NTB

When VG presented the development of Norwegian football to national team manager Ståle Solbakken, it was clear: Norway He should He was in the European Commission.

-I buy your point of view. It's a very good thing for Norwegian football, Solbakken tells VG.

– It's incredibly fun and surprising to hear that we have so many people with us, and that says something about things being done right, and that things are about to change a little in Norwegian football, NRK football writer Thor Haugstad tells VG.

This season, Norway has 78 players (this number has never been higher) who have played time in the three biggest European club football leagues:

Champions League, Europa League and Conference League.

Norway is ahead of countries such as Italy, Denmark, Croatia and Trees of the world Belgium.

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In the 2016/17 season, Norway only had eight Players represented in Europe, for comparison.

Admittedly, the lowest-ranked league, the Conference League, was not offered at that time.

Norway is crushing Sweden, which has only 35 representatives in this year's season.

The country closest to Norway and not qualifying for the European Football Championship is Israel, with its 39 players.

VG does not have time to complete the thought before Ståle Solbakken understands what we are looking for.

– We are not satisfied with not qualifying. If we beat Scotland at home, we'll get three points more and Scotland three points less. It's that simple and that difficult. What you pointed out is that we should have been in the European Community, and I agree with that.

Frederik Orsnes (red) is the Norwegian with the most minutes played in Europe this season. See the full overview at the bottom of this issue. Photograph: Pedro Nunes/Reuters/NTB

– Do statistics say that there is untapped potential in the national team?

– Yes, we have the capabilities. But if it is not resolved…we know very well what we are missing, and that is what is happening in our own box. We need to improve this significantly.

Much of the criticism of Solbakken's side has focused on their defensive play being too weak against the best in Europe.

Perhaps these numbers indicate some of that?

32.1 percent (25 players) of Norway's 78 players in Europe this season are defenders.

If you look at the chart below, you can see that Norway has fewer defenders on the field than countries we can compare ourselves to.

NRK's ​​Thor Haugstad is keen to raise awareness of these statistics specifically:

“Denmark doesn't have the best players as good as the ones we have at the top, but throughout the team, they have an even spread of quality,” he tells VG.

The defense is good, the goalkeeper is good, while we (Norway) are incredibly unbalanced.

42.9% of Denmark's 63 players in Europe are defenders. More than ten percentage points more than Norway.

– It would have been fun if we had a sea of ​​good goalkeepers, playing around the conference and not being discovered by Solbakken, but that is not the case, says Hoogstad.

– You can say that many of our offensive players are in better clubs than our defensive players. There was one of Bodo/Glimt and FCK Who played a lot. But a lot goes into play time. You can score one if you have five minutes of playing time, says Solbakken.

Leo Ostegaard plays in the Champions League. He has two appearances for Napoli, but if he plays once a month, his Champions League experience becomes less valuable than if he played more often.

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-Is it a cheap point to pull these (defensive) stats?

– No no. It is completely fair to opt out. “You have good points,” Solbakken says.

Overall, the national team manager is very satisfied that Norway has 78 Norwegians playing time in Europe.

-The more people play European football, the greater the chances of international success over time.

Thor Haugstad points to global stars Martin Odegaard and Erling Braut Haaland as a factor in Norway being at the top of the statistics.

– I think there may have been a signaling effect from players like Odegaard and Haaland to many managers, scouts and presidents around Europe that there are good players in Norway. I think it's normal to rent a little extra in Scandinavia, especially in Norway, when you see Ballon d'Or nominated players coming from there.

note: Last week, Norway fell in the FIFA rankings to 47th place. Countries such as Romania, Panama and Mali are ahead of the red, white and blue colours.

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Want to read more about Norwegian football? VG's large club magazine about Tromsø IL contains 100 pages of good reports, stories and facts about the club. The magazine can be purchased at Our online store (free shipping!)

Najuma Ojukwu

Najuma Ojukwu

"Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner."

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