Norway vs Kosovo

Ullevaal Stadion sets the stage for the first-ever encounter between Norway and Kosovo.

Even though a third-place finish in Euro 2024 qualifying Group A behind Spain and Scotland condemned Norway to missing out on a 12th consecutive major tournament, manager Stale Solbakken is still at the helm, albeit only barely. Back-to-back winless friendlies against the Czech Republic and Slovakia in March extended Norway’s dismal run to only one win across their last five internationals (D2, L2), heightening the pressure on the former Copenhagen boss. With Erling Haaland leading the line and Martin Odegaard wearing the armband, you’d expect Norway to return to winning ways against Kosovo, a side 102nd side in FIFA rankings. However, just one win from their last four home outings (D1, L2) suggests the Norwegians can’t take anything for granted.

Meanwhile, Kosovo pieced together a decent Euro 2024 qualifying campaign but had to settle for a second-from-bottom finish in Group I despite only losing three of their ten games (W2, D5). While waiting for a first major tournament appearance since gaining admission to FIFA in 2013, the visitors begin preparations for the upcoming UEFA Nations League, looking to avenge a 2-0 defeat to Hungary last time out. The result knocked Kosovo down from a three-game unbeaten streak on the road (W2, D1), marking their first scoring blank on foreign soil since a 2-0 loss at Romania in September 2023. Low scoring has been a common theme in Kosovo’s recent away friendlies, with their three such fixtures since the start of 2022 featuring under 2.5 goals.

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