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Presents for Pellerud; a warning for Germany

There were special celebrations for the Norway coach while among Even Pellerud's players a steely determination took hold: old rivals Germany are back in their sights.

Norway's Marit Christensen knows Germany possess attacking talent
Norway's Marit Christensen knows Germany possess attacking talent ©Sportsfile

Even Pellerud clutched a bouquet of flowers while wearing a crown on his head and a slightly bemused smile. It was the Norway coach's 60th birthday and his players wanted to mark the occasion. Still savouring the joy of victory against Netherlands the previous night, the mood at training was buoyant.

Only the prospect of an appointment with traditional foes Germany on Wednesday threatened to add a cloud to the gloriously blue sky but for once it is a confrontation Norway don't have to win. With both teams on four points, a draw will secure qualification and even a defeat won't necessarily be damaging.

Nevertheless, Norwegian centre-back Marit Christensen says they will be trying hard to break the sequence of German supremacy over them in UEFA Women's EURO finals – in seven fixtures the best that Norway have achieved is a solitary draw.

"We always want to win and we will be trying to do that on Wednesday," said Christensen, named player of the match on Sunday. "We know Germany are a good team – we've played against them many times. They know us and we know them. It will be difficult but we have a good chance against them.

"They have so many good attackers who score lots of goals. We have to be tight on them and make sure they can't turn you around. The coach will give us the rundown on what to expect but sometimes even when you know the strength of a particular player it is hard to stop them!"

The tall defender says she likes to be heavily involved in games and that has certainly been her story at Sweden 2013 so far. Her mistimed challenge led to the penalty and Iceland's late equaliser on matchday one while she might have scored twice in the 1-0 win over the Dutch. She saw one header from a set-piece cleared off the line while another struck a post.

Christensen's defensive partner Trine Rønning also has unhappy memories of past meetings with Germany, recalling the pain of an own-goal in a 3-0 defeat in the 2007 FIFA World Cup semi-final in Tianjin. "Birgit Prinz put in a cross and it hit me on the shoulder and went in," she said. "It was hit so hard and I couldn't get out of the way."

The Stabæk FK player, outstanding against Netherlands, preferred to turn the focus away from her own performance and towards the wide channels where youngsters Caroline Hansen and Kristine Hegland have impressed in the opening two matches.

"It is their first European Championship but you wouldn't really know that," Rønning said. "They have been very, very good so far. We had to win against the Netherlands but that's not the case with this game. But of course we still want to win, it would be nice to break that record."

Silje Vesterbekkmo, Norway's number two goalkeeper, has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after straining a hamstring while warming up during half-time of the Netherlands game.

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