Euro 2024 qualifying Scotland v Norway

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke admits “mixed feelings” over the absence of Norway striker Erling Haaland for Sunday’s Euro 2024 qualifier.

The Manchester City forward, 23, picked up an injury in Thursday’s friendly win against Faroe Islands.

Scotland and Spain have qualified for next summer’s finals in Germany and cannot be caught by third-place Norway.

“For the crowd, it would have been great to see a player of Haaland’s standard,” Clarke said.

“It would have been good for the defenders to test themselves against a top striker, but unfortunately he’s not fit.

“If it was a game that really meant something I’d probably be sitting here saying, ‘yeah, delighted he’s not playing’. But for the game tomorrow, it would be better I think if he played.”

The Norwegian Football Federation says Haaland’s ankle injury is “not serious” but that the game comes “a little too early” for him.

Speaking after the squad arrived in Glasgow, Norway coach Stale Solbakken added: “It’s a big blow for any team, but we have played without him before sometimes with success, sometimes without success.

“It’s unfortunate for that for us now that he got a small knock on Thursday. It’s his movement in the foot is his problem, it’s not a serious injury. I haven’t spoken to Man City, maybe he has. It’s not a career-threatening injury.”

Scotland beat Norway 2-1 in Oslo and trail Group A leaders Spain by two points going into the final round of games. Spain host Georgia on Sunday while the Scots and Norwegians play at Hampden.

Georgia led Scotland twice but ultimately drew 2-2 in Thursday’s penultimate qualifier, while Spain beat Cyprus. Sunday’s results will have a say in which seeding pot – two or three – Scotland feature in for the final.

“I haven’t looked [at the seeding pots issue]. It doesn’t concern me. The main objective was to be there,” Clarke added.

“Pot two, pot three – it’s all speculation because you don’t know how the other games are going to pan out. So, we’ll go out, we’ll do our best to win the game and then we’ll decide after that whether we want to be in pot two or pot three.”

Team news
Scotland have no fresh injury concerns after the draw in Georgia.

Billy Gilmour and Ryan Christie only played the opening 45 minutes in Tbilisi. Substitute Kenny McLean set up Scott McTominay’s first equaliser with replacement Lawrence Shankland heading the second.

Norway will not call up a replacement for Haaland, who has 27 goals in 29 senior international appearances, including one against Scotland in June.

The visitors will also be without Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard, Sevilla goalkeeper Orjan Nyland, FC Copenhagen defender Birger Meling and Villarreal forward Alexander Sorloth.

What they said
Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor: “The games are always difficult but if you don’t start well, you give yourself a bit of a mountain to climb. We have to be intense, try and win the ball back, play with aggression.

“There’s all these little sub-plots. We want to try and finish as strongly as we can, if that means we jump into pot two then brilliant and that’ll give us a helping hand in the summer.

“[Erling Haaland is] a top player. It’s always good to test yourself against the best players. On the flip side of that, we want to win the game and if they’re missing their top player and their talisman, that’s good news as well.”

Norway coach Stale Solbakken: “We must congratulate Scotland on a great campaign, they’ve done really well. They’ve played at a high level. All credit to them, but tomorrow is another game and we will try to have a go again.

“I think we’re quite even and play very tight games against each other. They have been better than us in bringing the small margins lately, so we have to see if we can find that way too.”

Match stats
Scotland have won their past two games against Norway, winning 1-0 in a 2013 friendly and 2-1 earlier this year in a European Championship qualifier.
This is Norway’s first game in Scotland since a goalless draw in a World Cup qualifier in 2008. Norway are unbeaten in their past three in Scotland (W1 D2) since losing 3-2 in a 1978 European Championship qualifier.
Scotland have only lost two of their past 20 home games in all competitions (W14 D4), although one was in their last home game against England in September. The Scots haven’t lost consecutive home games since September 2019.
Norway have won five of their past six matches in all competitions (L1), losing the other 1-0 at home to Spain last month. Those five victories have come via an aggregate score of 17-2.
Scotland are winless in their past four games in all competitions (D1 L3) since a five-game winning run between March and September. They last had a longer run without a win between November 2020 and March 2021 (five games).
Having beaten Cyprus 4-0 away from home last month, Norway are looking to record consecutive away wins in European qualifying for the first time since October/November 2014 when they beat Malta and Azerbaijan.
Scott McTominay has scored seven goals for Scotland in 2023. In Scotland’s history, only Denis Law in 1963 (11) and Colin Stein in 1969 (8) have ever netted more goals in a calendar year.
After not scoring or assisting in any of his first six caps for Norway, Jorgen Strand Larsen now has two goals and two assists in his past four caps for his country, scoring their opener in their 2-0 win over the Faroe Islands last time out.

Scotland host Norway in their final Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday night.

Steve Clarke’s side have already booked their place in Germany next summer after winning five of their first seven Group A games.

Here are some of the key talking points ahead of the game at Hampden.

Scotland now inspiring their rivals
For much of their 23-year absence from major tournaments between France 98 and the Euros in 2021, Scotland would look to other nations for inspiration. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

Norway – whose last major tournament appearance was at Euro 2000 – find themselves in a similar predicament to the one the Scots freed themselves from a few years ago.

As the Scots prepare for a second consecutive visit to the Euros and Norway’s barren run from major tournaments extends to a minimum of 26 years, a Norwegian journalist asked both Steve Clarke and Callum McGregor on Saturday what his nation could learn from Scotland.

McGregor almost seemed embarrassed, saying: “I’m probably not the guy to tell Norway how to qualify for the next campaign.”

Clarke, meanwhile, kept the advice simple: “Trust the process, trust the coach, trust the players. Continue to work on the path you’re on if you think that’s the right path.” The Scots are very much on the right path under Clarke.

‘Mixed feelings’ over Erling Haaland’s absence
Scotland boss Clarke admitted to “mixed feelings” after it was confirmed on Saturday morning that Norway talisman Erling Haaland would miss out with an ankle injury.

The absence of the free-scoring Manchester City forward – who has 20 goals to his name already this term – takes some of the remaining sheen away from the dead-rubber match as a spectacle but it undoubtedly makes the task of securing a victory slightly easier for the Scots.

Connotations over Euro 2024 draw
Sunday’s match will have a bearing on Scotland’s status for the Euro 2024 draw in Hamburg in a fortnight. If they beat Norway by two goals or more, they will almost certainly be in pot two, while a one-goal victory, a draw or a defeat will likely see them in pot three.

The way things are shaping up, it does not look like there will be a major benefit to being in pot two as opposed to pot three.

Indeed some Scotland supporters have mused that – with Albania, Turkey and Hungary among the sides currently on course to be in pot two – it may actually be in Scotland’s interests to settle for staying in pot three, from where they would arguably have a chance of an easier draw.

Long wait for home win over Norway
Scotland have won the last two meetings between the teams, although both of those matches were in Norway, earlier this year and in 2013. They have not beaten the Norwegians in their last three encounters at Hampden.

The most recent of those was the World Cup qualifier in 2008 when Scotland striker Chris Iwelumo famously missed an open goal in a 0-0 draw.

The Norwegians also kept a clean sheet on their previous match in Scotland when they won 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier in 2004 that saw James McFadden sent off, while they drew 1-1 in Glasgow on the night the Scots sealed qualification for Italia 90.

Scotland’s last home win over Norway came in a European Championship qualifier in October 1978.