Lagerbäck has decided on his team, but keeps cards close to his chest

Lars Lagerbäck made a positive showing for the June team, although after three matches he’s still waiting for his first victory as Norwegian national football team manager.

Lars Lagerbäck. Norwegian national football team manager. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

‘It feels as if these two games have given us a lot of information. I’m starting to have a good overview of the players. We have a fairly steady squad, but there are 8 to 10 players who’ll probably make up the team, or maybe some more’, he summed up after a 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic was followed by the same result against Sweden.

He refused to comment on which players he will definitely will have on the team.

‘It’s gonna be told to them first. I don’t want to go public with that list until I’ve shown it to the players. And we don’t know yet what will happen to those who’ve been playing in the foreign leagues.

Not since 1982 has Norway beaten Sweden at their home ground. Lagerbäck was just nine minutes, plus extra time away from doing that which none of his predecessors, Drillo, Nils Johan Semb, or Per-Mathias Høgmo had managed.

‘It was disappointing to miss out on victory in the final stretch. A win always makes life easier. It gives a psychological ’boost’ and helps build a winning culture among the lads, but the most important thing is that we have begun to see the structure of how to play,’ he said.

Lagerbäck was particularly pleased with Norway’s first match against the Swedes under his leadership.

‘We found a good balance, went forward sensibly and created a lot of opportunities. We came close to scoring a number of times, and we didn’t relax for the whole match. After half-time, the efforts came a bit more in waves, maybe because we switched around a lot, but the were also tired by the end of the match’, he said.

He was delighted that Norway scored from an innocent looking set piece strategy, but less pleased with Sweden’s backlash goal from the corner kick.

Plus and minus

‘It doesn’t matter how the goals are scored, but it always feels good when we succeed with a strategy we’ve been working on,’ he said about the throw-in, which paved the way for Mohamed Elyounoussi’s 1-0 goal.

‘During the corner kick, it felt as if we were too passive. I have to see the action again, but it shows that concentration and full effort has to be there during every second during football matches played at this level.

We have a blend of covering positions, and selected marking in defensive set piece situations, and it’s important that the position players cover their areas and get to the ball. It didn’t seem like that was happening to me.

He also believes that it was more than just physical considerations which made Norway finish the match more weakly.

‘It’s also the mental part. When looking for a 1-0 victory, one would rather not make mistakes, and we became a little passive and stagnant. Nevertheless, Sweden gave us very few openings’, he said.

Lagerbäck assembles the national team again at the end of August, for the World Cup qualifying matches against Azerbaijan, and an away game against Germany.

Then he’ll be keen to chase his first win and progress forward.

Read other news on the city site of Oslo.

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