Norway were the last team other than Germany to win the UEFA Women's EURO, some 20 years ago, and proved their ability to end that barren run when they defeated the holders 1-0 on Wednesday to top Group B.
Suitably rested, they have stayed in their tournament home of Kalmar to play Spain in Monday's quarter-final and the goalscorer against Germany, forward Ingvild Isaksen, and one of their most impressive performers in Sweden, defender Marit Fiane Christensen, spoke to UEFA.com about that historic victory, the threat of Spain and their team spirit.
UEFA.com: How are you feeling ahead of the game with Spain?
Ingvild Isaksen: Very excited. We're really looking forward to the match. We have had four days off now, so four days to prepare. We are really looking forward to it.
UEFA.com: What are you expecting from Spain?
Marit Fiane Christensen: I've been really impressed by Spain. They have really good skills and have developed a lot. They're really good with the ball. I say they play the 'Spanish way'. They like holding the ball and if they lose it they're all over you to win it back immediately. I think they look really good and I'm impressed by their play.
UEFA.com: You are still unbeaten in the tournament. Why do you think you've been so impressive?
Isaksen: Maybe it's just the mindset of the girls. They really wanted to show maybe the Norwegian people that we really can play football. So I think the mentality and the effort we've put into the games has been a big contributor.
UEFA.com: Perhaps your best result was against Germany. How did it feel to beat the defending champions?
Isaksen: I'm really glad that someone finally beat them, It's cool that someone beat Germany. I've never beaten Germany as part of the senior team, so it's a really good feeling to finally beat such a good team. We know we can beat anyone if we can beat Germany.
Christensen: Yes, it was a really good performance. We played like Norway want to play. We were defensively strong and we cramped them for room. We didn't have that many chances in the game, but we restricted them as well. Perhaps we don't have the best players in the world but we work as a team.
UEFA.com: On a personal level, Ingvild, it was a very special day for you, wasn't it? You picked the perfect time to score your first senior international goal.
I've been saving that for four years now so it's really good to be the one that scored the goal, in front of such a good crowd, 10,000 people. It was a big experience for me and it was really emotional.
UEFA.com: Can you explain how you felt when you saw the ball go into the net?
Isaksen: I don't know what I was thinking. I just saw the ball go in and I just smiled and was really happy.
UEFA.com: Those moments are what you dream of as a footballer, aren't they?
Isaksen: They really are, and you think back and you realise that all the hours you spent training outside in the snowy weather in Norway are worth it.
UEFA.com: There were lots of happy faces and smiles today at training. You look like you're enjoying being in Sweden?
Isaksen: It's really important. All the girls are really good friends and we enjoy each other's company so that's a big success factor for our team, that we really get along well
Christensen: It's really important and we're a happy team. It's important for us to stay together and keep smiling. It gives the team good energy when we have a good atmosphere in the group.
UEFA.com: Your coach Even Pellerud was in charge 20 years ago when Norway last won the tournament. Do you believe you can lift the trophy again?
Isaksen: We know it's a long and tough road. We have three more games including the final, but we know we can beat any team. If we perform to our best, we can go all the way.
UEFA.com: Marit, you were part of the squad that made it to the final at UEFA Women's EURO 2005. Do you think you could repeat that achievement?
Christensen: Of course, you always want to win. Playing in a final is huge. We need to focus on the next game against Spain, though. You know the final awaits if you do a good job.
UEFA.com: You've been in Kalmar since the tournament started. Are you enjoying it here?
Christensen: It's our second home now, it's been great in Kalmar. It's been nice for us to stay here from the end of the group stage through to the quarter-finals because we can rest for one day and we like the place a lot.
We hope the fans will cheer for us in this game. It's like we're the home team.
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