Gibraltar wrap up their September international triple-header with a difficult away trip to Oslo to take on Norway tomorrow.
Photo © W Gracia Photos
After an improved performance at home to Turkey on Saturday, Gib flew out on Sunday morning to Norway to prepare for their sixth game of the qualifying campaign so far. Their hosts, who won 3-0 at the Victoria Stadium back in March, will be looking for a convincing win, especially as, depending on the result between Turkey and the Netherlands on the same night, they could find themselves top of Group G come the end of this international break.
Julio Ribas’ side were dealt a blow when striker Tjay De Barr picked up his second booking of the qualifying campaign so far, meaning he’ll serve a one-match ban in this game. They are helped by the return of Louie Annesley from suspension, while Reece Styche is expected to replace De Barr up top in what will no doubt be a challenging evening for the Hednesford attacker.
Norway have no suspended players of their own to contend with, although with the likes of Martin Odegaard and Mohamed Elyounoussi some of those just one yellow from missing a crucial away tie against Turkey next month, manager Stale Solbakken may make a couple of changes to his team. Don’t expect wholesale changes though – goal difference is the first separator of teams on level points and with Norway eight goals behind Netherlands on goal difference, and five behind Turkey, this will be a massive chance to potentially claw back that deficit, should the likes of Erling Haaland find the form that deserted him in the Victoria Stadium back in March.
For Gib, there may have to be other changes to the team owing to the challenging triple-header which has already seen them make a return trip to Latvia as well as their flight to Oslo, and two challenging matches in the last week. However, this will offer them the chance to end this international break on a positive note if the performance is right, and give them some belief ahead of the two final international breaks of 2021, where they have two reasonable home games against Montenegro and Latvia to try and get points from.
Understandably the hosts come into this game as 1/50 favourites to take all three points, while Gib are 350/1 for the victory and 35/1 for the draw. Goals will no doubt be on Norway’s mind given the goal difference issue they have, and the goal line currently sits at Over/Under 4.5 – a total they haven’t reached in a match since a 5-1 drubbing of Northern Ireland exactly a year ago tomorrow.
Despite not scoring at the Victoria Stadium in March, Erling Haaland, one of Europe’s most lethal strikers, is just 29/20 to score first, and 1/8 to score in 90 minutes. Gib came close to scoring vs Turkey last time out, hitting the post early in the second half, and have scored in three of their last five competitive away matches, so Both Teams To Score is a potentially tempting 18/5.
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Nikolas Neokleous is the referee for tomorrow’s game, as part of an all-Cypriot team at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo. While this will be his first competitive senior international as a referee, he has been fourth official for two Gibraltar U17 games back in 2016, from which four of that team are in the current senior national team (Ethan Britto, Louie Annesley, Julian Valarino & Kian Ronan).
Norway – Hansen; Ryerson, Ajer, Gabrielsen, Meling; Berg, Daehli, Normann; King; Sorloth, Haaland
Gibraltar – Coleing; Sergeant, Wiseman, R. Chipolina, Annesley, Pons; Valarino, Torrilla, Badr, Hernandez; Styche