Football: Norway keep to route one approach

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The Independent Online
THE LIVERPOOL defender Stig Inge Bjornebye has warned Brazil that Norway will step up their controversial long-ball tactics in Marseilles tonight as they try to qualify for the second round for the first time in their history.

The Norwegians' route-one tactics have so far resulted in disappointment, with a 2-2 draw against Morocco and a 1-1 result against Scotland extending their unbeaten run to 16 matches. Egil Olsen's side probably need to beat the defending champions to join them in the second round, although, if Scotland and Morocco draw, Norway could still lose and go through.

Bjornebye believes that if Norway are to repeat their friendly win over the Brazilians from last year, there is only one way to do it. "We didn't get on top of our last two opponents," he said. "We didn't hold the initiative long enough to hope to win those games. Against Brazil our defence will have to be better organised, our midfielders will have to be steadier and our forwards will have to be quicker.

"We'll have to break down their defence with long passes. We'll also have to mark their full-backs closely. We can't allow them any space. That will be the key to our success."

But Norway's aerial tactics - where they hoist high balls up to the 6ft 4in Chelsea forward Tore Andre Flo - do not worry Brazil. Goncalves, who is set to replace Aldair in defence because of the latter's yellow card, said: "They have the height advantage, but we have the edge in touch, speed and mobility."

In addition, the Brazilians appear to be on an upward curve. After a shaky 2-1 victory over Scotland, they routed Morocco 3-0. With first place in Group A assured and the midfielder Cesar Sampaio suspended, the coach, Mario Zagallo, may experiment against the Norwegians. Denilson, the exciting 20-year-old left winger, may earn his first start of the tournament.

"I want to make those dribbles that drive the fans crazy," Denilson said at the weekend. "Fouls don't intimidate me. The bigger the defender, the harder he falls."

However, Zagallo has refused to confirm the rumour that Denilson will play, saying that he might use Emerson Ferreira, Sampaio's immediate deputy.