Scotland could qualify for the 2024 European Championship when Norway host Spain in Oslo on Sunday night and unsurprisingly Erling Haaland is a central figure in the fixture.
Steve Clarke’s side lost 2-0 to La Roja in Seville on Thursday night and their first defeat after five Group A wins left them three points ahead of Luis de la Fuente’s men, having played a game more.
Scotland face France in a friendly in Lille on Tuesday night but in essence, if Norway fail to beat Spain then the Scots will be appearing at their second successive Euros, while there are two fixtures next month, Georgia away and Norway at Hampden Park, which offer opportunities to clinch qualification.
Norway, who lost 2-1 at home to the Scots in June with Haaland scoring from the penalty spot, beat Cyprus 4-0 in Larnaca on Thursday with the Manchester City superstar scoring a double to make it 27 goals in 27 appearances for his national team.
De la Fuente was quoted in Marca.com praising his defence as they prepare to come up against the Norwegian goal machine.
He said: “We will look for the best version of all, with concentration to try to stop the attacks of Norway.
“We know the importance of Haaland, but he is not the only one. There is no Haaland plan. Haaland is a dynamic attacking specialist, but I’m delighted with the work of my centre-backs.
“We will try to counteract those characteristics, not only Haaland, and we will try to minimise the talent of these players. In defence, against Scotland and Norway, we have dominated the situation.”
The only blip in the qualifying campaign for Spain, this summer’s Nations League winners, was the 2-0 defeat at Hampden Park in March and they will qualify for Germany with a win in Oslo.
Norway have no margin for error in their quest to reach Euro 2024 and coach Stale Solbakken was quoted in marca.com as acknowledging the difficulty of the task they face.
He said: “Yes, the situation of the group for us is a disappointment. Why? It’s as simple as the fact that our situation is extremely difficult to be in the European Championship.”
Looking back at lessons from the defeat in Malaga, he said: “We learned that we can play, create chances, be alive for 81 minutes.
“Spain is always one of the best, always with the ball and in aggressiveness when they don’t have it.”