Steve Clarke and his Scotland players take the next step on what they hope is a journey to the 2024 European Championships when they face Norway on Saturday evening.
The national team goes up against a Norway side that includes star names like Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard in their ranks and hopes to use home advantage to take three vital points in the qualifying race.
Scotland have travelled to Oslo as group leaders, having enjoyed a strong start to the campaign. A 3-0 opening day victory over Cyprus was followed by a thrilling 2-0 win over top seeds Spain.
Norway’s start hasn’t been as positive. Stale Solbakken’s side started with arguably the toughest fixture, losing 3-0 to Spain in Malaga, then had to settle for a 1-1 draw in Georgia.
Those two matches were played without talismanic striker Haaland though. With 21 goals in 23 games, his value to Norway can’t be understated, and 52 goals in 53 games as City completed a clean sweep of FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League show he’s been in relentless form all season.
Scotland defender Jack Hendry won’t reveal how the team intend to frustrate the prolific forward but says they will also be wary of the other threats in the team, including ex-Celtic attacker mohamed Elyounoussi.
“A lot of people have tried to stop him this season and they haven’t done,” Hendry said. “He’s an amazing player with an amazing record.
“But we’ll be taking a look at the full team and how to combat that.”
While the Tartan Army ponder the threat posed by Haaland and his team-mates, Scotland assistant John Carver believes the opposition will be concerned about taking on a side that was last seen defeating Spain.
“They will be worried about John McGinn, Scott McTominay, Callum McGregor,” Carver said. “We have a force that can be reckoned with and they will have seen that because they will have watched the Spain game and watched the Cyprus game, so they will realise that we have got some talent in our team.”
Following Saturday’s match at the Ullevaal Stadium, which kicks off at 5pm UK time, Scotland will face Georgia at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.
With maximum points from the two game played so far, Clarke and his players will be hoping to add to their tally over the next four days before reaching the half-way point in the qualifiers.