Olsen: “Ireland try to play like Barcelona”
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Norwegian head coach Egil Olsen discussed the varying Irish tactics as well as comparing the 2010 group of players to those Norway faced in the 1994 World Cup.
Olsen praised the Irish attacking spirit, and also the flair of some of the Irish players, having seen videos of Trapattoni’s men in action. “I have seen Ireland in the last matches and they have a more old-fashioned play, with the long ball up in the air,” said Olsen. “And other times they look like they try to play like Barcelona. I’m not quite sure if that’s very smart, but I feel that they have both of these elements in the team. We have not! We don’t play like Barcelona.”
The manager nicknamed ‘Drillo’ was the country’s international manager from 1990 to 1998, and Iraq manager in 2007, before returning to manage his country last year. He brought them to the 1994 World Cup, Norway’s second time ever in the finals, and first since 1938. There, they faced Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland side in Group E, a stale match which ended 0-0. Recalling that game, and comparing the current team to them, Olsen said “They are much better now than in ’94. The football now is much better. The players are much better individually. They have better skill.”
Since returning to the managerial post for the Norwegian senior international side, Olsen has had a tremendous record. They have played 15 games, won 10, drawn 2, and lost 3 – a 66.6% win rate, with 21 goals scored and 12 conceded. They currently sit at the top of Group H in Euro 2012 Qualifying, on 9 points from 3 games, with a game in hand over second-placed Portugal, who they beat 1-0 at home in September.
Fans travelling to tonight’s international friendly at the Aviva Stadium should not expect a goal glut against Norway, with their last 11 games ending either 1-0 or 2-1.