=============================================================================== N O R W A Y Erik Boman Odd-Magne Sekkingstad =============================================================================== The History ----------- Football came to Norway late in the 19th century. The first Norwegian football club was Christiania Fodboldsklub founded 28th Mai 1885. NFF, Norges Fotball Forbund, (The Norwegian Football Association) was founded 30th April 1902. In 1908 NFF became a member of FIFA, and Norways national team played their first official match, against Sweden. The Norwegian national team record: GP W D L GF GA Norway 560 171 124 265 829 - 1107 The Norwegian national team record, with Drillo as coach: Drillos 38 19 12 7 74 - 26 Norway in the Olympics ---------------------- Stockholm 1912 0-7 Denmark Antwerpen 1920 3-1 England 0-4 Czechoslovakia Berlin 1936 4-0 Turkey 2-0 Germany 1-2 Italy (after extra time) 3-2 Poland (Third place match) Moscow 1980 Qualified (Boycott) Los Angeles 1984 0-0 Chile 1-2 France 2-0 Qatar Norway in the World Cup ----------------------- France 1938 1-2 Italy (after extra time) From The Story Of The World Cup by Brian Glanville: Italy were very nearly knocked out at once: in Marseilles, by the Norwegians, who had given their Olympic team an arduous run for their money. Norway, playing with six of the team which had lost only 2-1 to Italy in the Olympic semi-final, were a goal down in only the second minute. Piola found Ferrari, whose shot was dropped by the Norwegian goalkeeper. Ferraris II, the left winger, shot the ball home. R. Johansen, the Norwegian right-back, now indicated Piola to his center-half, Eriksen, who nodded and dropped back to dedicate himself successfully to the big center-forward, Henriksen, the little right-half, taking his place in midfield. The pendulum swung. Brunyldsen, the mighty center-forward, now began to set dreadful problems for the Italian defence. He was well abetted by his fast, direct left-winger, Brustad, and Kwammen, a composed inside-right. Three times post and bar were hit, and finally Brustad, in the second half, received from Brunyldsen, cut inside Monzeglio, and equalised. Soon afterwards, Brustad had the ball in the net again, to be given offside; and just before time, Olivieri made his famous save from Brunyldsen, whom Pozzo called 'a cruel thorn in my crown of roses'. Five minutes into extra time, Piola at last evaded the Norwegian defence, when Paserati shot. Again H. Johansen could only block, and the center-forward scored. Italy had survived their hardest match of the tournament. Norway's qualifing matches for the WC ------------------------------------- After Norway had been drawn into the same group as The Netherlands, England, Poland and Turkey, there weren't many who believed that Norway would manage to qualify for the WC. Our coach "Drillo" Olsen said that the chances were about 20%, he has always been quite realistic. Norway got a flying start in 1992 by thrashing San Marino scoring double figures, and after that Norway rode on a wave of success throughout the qualifying round. The coach: Egil "Drillo" Olsen ------------------------------ Personal info -------------- Born: 22. April 1942 Played 16 times for the national team. National coach from 14. October 1990. Ask any Norwegian what is the main reason for Norway qualifying for the WC finals for the first time in 56 years and he will answer: "Drillo". "Drillo" is the nickname of the Norwegian coach Egil Olsen. He earned it when he was a player in the sixties, where he was a true dribbling wizard (by Norwegian standards at least). There are stories about how he would pass a "tunnel" through his opponents legs, then deliberately wait for the defender to come back in position so he could try to repeat the trick! Once he juggled the ball for fun for 5 straight hours, that was 32,000 hits. It seems therefore to be a paradox that this man is now a coach deeply committed to tactics and analyzing games in painstaking detail. But there is really no contradiction here (see separate discussion of team tactics). Egil Olsen is the first Norwegian to have a university degree in football. He is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Sport and Physical Education in Oslo. His coaching is based on his academic skills. After every game, he spends hours watching the videotape over and over again. He carefully registers how many times each player touched the ball, in what position, what did the player do with the ball, was it a positive or a negative touch, etc. This information is processed and stored in Olsen's mind and notes and he can make player selections based on this data (e.g. who is best at using the left foot when playing on the right midfield and facing own goal). His decisions are made on a statistical and analytical background, not on feelings or intuition. "Drillo" was a club coach for local club teams for years and then coached the Norwegian under-21 national team and the Olympic team before he was suddenly chosen to head the "real" national team when his predecessor withdrew in 1990. He made few changes on the team he took over, but his confidence in his tactical strategy and emphasis on team spirit lifted the team to a level Norway has not seen in modern times. From being ranked along with Malta and Luxembourg, Norway was ranked at number 4 on the official FIFA world ranking in 1994. His record as head coach is a stunning 19-12-7 (W-D-L) in 38 games (as of May 23, 1994). In private "Drillo" is a shy and sober man who enjoys walking his dog. Politically it is known that he has left-wing sympathies, he was once a member of the Marxist-Leninist Party. But today he is only known as the man who led Norwegian football into a new era. The tactics ----------- Coach "Drillo" Olsen has a tactical strategy which is of great importance to the Norwegian team. The most important factors are: - zone defence - aggressivity and fast attacks - usually 4-5-1 formation In the first games "Drillo" Olsen used a 3-5-2 formation but it turned out to be too difficult for the 3 backs to cover the whole width when playing zone defence. Since he strongly believes in a pure zone defence he switched to 4-5-1. The zone defence with all backs on a line is very demanding, but has been developed to near perfection by central defenders Rune Bratseth and Tore Pedersen. A solid defence is the cornerstone of the team. The general philosophy is very simple: When you are defending, make sure to have as many players as possible behind the ball, always put pressure on the opposition when they are on the ball and try to win the ball from them. Once possession has been regained, counter-attack quickly whenever feasible. Most goals are scored after possession has been won and few passes have been used. The break-through is the second most important thing in football and often leads to the ultimate achievement: the goal. Consequently, you will not see Norway try to establish an attack by endless short passes. If the situation is right you may see wall-passes or solo break- aways through the middle by small, technical players like Erik Mykland and Lars Bohinen. But more often the team resorts to long passes to the striker (Jan Age Fjortoft) or the midfield winger (Jostein Flo). If the pass succeeds, the team is substantially closer to the goal. If it fails, at least possession was lost high up on the pitch and there is always a chance to break back and recover. With only one striker, the midfielders must follow up and come running from behind whenever the ball is pushed up. This has proven to be very efficient and most of Norway's goals have come in this way. The central midfielders (Kjetil Rekdal and Oyvind Leonhardsen) have an enormous running capacity, they work like a steam engine for 90 minutes. Drillo is constantly refining the tactics. One of his recent pet projects is the rapid sideways movement. The idea is to move the entire team closer to the flank where the ball is (when defending). The opposite flank is left wide open, so if a cross pass occurs, the whole team has to rush over to the other side. The advantage is that you have a higher density of players in the area around the ball and thus a better chance to win possession. The disadvantage is that the strategy is very energy consuming. It looks funny to see players suddenly start sprinting when they are nowhere near the ball, but tactics like this are the future of football. The success of the Norwegian team can be explained by a coach the players respect and admire and a tactical system which fits the players well. Critics claim it is too defensive and anti-constructive. Drillo responds that you do not win a football game by having ball possession, only the number of goals count. With a rock solid defence, Norway frequently have more shots on goal and more scoring chances than their opponents even if the other team has possession 60-70% of the time. Drillo knows perfectly well that his players cannot compete with World-class teams in technical skills, and so the team spirit and the tactics compensate and make the total product a very good football team. But, as Drillo himself puts it: "If Brazil had played with our system, they would have been invincible." The captain ------------------------------------ RUNE BRATSETH (Defender, Werder Bremen(GER)): Age/caps/goals: 33/57/4 Clubs: Werder Bremen,Germany, Rosenborg,Norway, Nidelv,Norway Merits: Won Bundesliga and German cup twice, EC2, all with Werder. Ranked best foreign player in Bundesliga twice. Bratseth is the highly respected captain of the Norwegian team. He is the most successful Norwegian football player of all times. He is very tall (193 cm) and very fast, which is a rare combination. He plays in the centre of defence, although at Werder he often plays libero, but the Norwegian team plays a pure zonal defence with no libero. Bratseth "reads" the game and the plays very well, he knows where to position himself and he chooses the best option of what to do 99% of the time. He is utterly reliable and never makes a real blunder. Add to this his speed (he is faster than most of the forwards he faces) and his excellent skills with his head, and you have a picture of a World-class player. Bratseth plays a key role in the Norwegian defence which has proven to be one of the best in the world. Rune Bratseth is a leader both on and off the pitch. He is sober, down-to-earth, and an active Christian. He is in many ways a role model parents want their kids to look up to. He strongly follows his beliefs: When a Norwegian brewery started running ads with pictures of the Norwegian football team, he said stop (alcohol and sports don't mix in Norway). "Either you stop this campaign or I won't play in the WC'94" he said. Guess who had to give in... Buying Rune Bratseth is probably the best deal Werder Bremen has ever done. He cost them only about $100,000 when they bought him from the Norwegian semi- professional club Rosenborg in 1986. At the height of his career, he got offers from several Italian clubs but turned them all down. His family life (wife and 2 kids) and his loyalty to Werder counted more than billions of lire. Now, after 7 years in Germany, he celebrated his last game by leading Werder to victory in the cup final. Now he faces his final challenge as a player: To lead the Norwegian squad in their first WC appearance since 1938. After that he retires and will move back to Norway and work as a sports executive at his old club Rosenborg.