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Solskjær hoping Norway can plot Portugal upset

Former Norway striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær is backing coach Egil Olsen to produce results in qualifying Group H as the Scandinavian side prepare for a "massive test" against Portugal.

Solskjær hoping Norway can plot Portugal upset
Solskjær hoping Norway can plot Portugal upset ©uefa.com 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

Former Norway striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær has described Tuesday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Portugal as a "massive test" as Egil Olsen's side look to continue their positive start in Group H.

Norway came from behind to beat Iceland 2-1 on Friday, but the stakes will be even greater for their first home outing in Oslo, with Solskjær knowing points are at a premium in a section also featuring Denmark and Cyprus.

"It's going to be a massive test for our boys," Solskjær told UEFA.com. "Three or four of them play abroad but most play in Norway and they can make the step up in tempo, in quality of passing. You might get just one or two chances to score.

"We've got a hard group, that's for sure. Portugal are one of the greatest teams in the world. We are quite realistic about our chances. I think maybe Portugal will run away to win [the group], but we've got a good chance of being number two. We started really well this season with a win against France in a friendly a couple of weeks ago. We've got to be positive."

Taking his own advice, Solskjær's own outlook is assuredly upbeat. Manchester United FC's match-winner in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final, he scored 23 times in 67 international appearances during a golden era for Norway, and he smiles as he recalls beating Brazil at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Spain at UEFA EURO 2000.

"When you beat Brazil in the group stage at a World Cup, that's got to be the highlight of my career for Norway," he said, adding: "We beat Spain at Euro 2000; that was on a Tuesday, my son was born on a Friday. I had to travel back to England, Noah was born and I got back to Belgium to play Spain and we beat them 1-0."

Steffen Iversen scored the winner that day and has been recalled to the Norway squad by another familiar face, Egil Olsen, who masterminded the win over Brazil. Solskjær describes Olsen as "tactically very, very good" and knows much will depend on the veteran coach if Norway are to reach their first major championship finals since UEFA EURO 2000.

"Egil is fantastic in motivating the players and making them believe we can do it," said Solskjær, who at 37 is now reserve-team coach at Manchester United. "His way of coaching and managing is different to anyone else I have seen. He's very eccentric, of course, but he's very direct: 'If you do this, you will be all right, but if you do that, you've got no chance.'

"He's very specific. As a team, of course we have been criticised for the way we've played defensively, [relying on] long balls. But you have to look at the players we have, the time he's had – and the results that he's got for Norway in his two reigns are incredible."

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