Gersbach has inside knowledge on underrated Norway

Socceroos defender Alex Gersbach believes Bert van Marwijk’s first game in charge of Australia against Norway later this month will provide a searching inquisition - and he should know.

Up to five of his Rosenborg teammates could line up in frigid, icy conditions against Australia in Oslo on March 24, and, according to Gersbach, the 56th-ranked Norwegians will be far from fearful of the 36th-ranked Socceroos.

On loan at second tier French side Lens until the end of the season, Gersbach will have a wealth of inside information on Norway, assuming he makes the cut when van Marwijk trims his 29-man squad to as few as 23 early next week.

“They play a very direct, aggressive style in a 4-4-2 formation and have improved of late,” Gersbach said of the team who failed to join fellow Scandinavians Sweden and Denmark in qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“They have some quality players and on paper they’re a really good team.

“They have the Rosenborg boys to call on, and they’ll be ready even though the domestic season doesn’t kick-off until this weekend.

“They also have a few players in the Premier League and I think they’re going to be really strong, especially with home advantage.”

Gersbach, who has been on Rosenborg’s books for two years and has learned to speak Norwegian, is jousting with Aziz Behich and recalled Millwall left-back James Meredith for a spot for the friendlies against Norway and Colombia in London four days later.

He was a regular as the powerhouse of Norwegian football won a domestic double in his debut season, but lost his near automatic starting spot in year two, hence the loan to Lens.

Of his Rosenborg teammates he tips centre back Tore Reginiussen and star striker Pal Andre Helland to stand out, should they play against Australia.

And he’s been particularly impressed with former Rosenborg junior Alexander Sorloth, who’s making an impression with Crystal Palace following his January move.

“Norway were a bit disappointing in the qualifiers for Russia, and losing 6-0 to Germany was a low point, but they are rebuilding at the moment and are actually better than some of the their results might suggest,” he added.

“You saw Denmark and Sweden qualify for the World Cup and Norway aren’t too far behind those countries.

“I think they’ll go into the game not fearing us, as we won’t fear them.”

Coached by Swede Lars Lagerback, the dream weaver who took Iceland on a joy ride to the last eight at Euro 2016, the Norwegians also boast the firepower of Bournemouth striker Josh King, and in Hoffenheim’s former Arsenal defender Havard Nordtveit they have a rock at the back.

Jackson Irvine’s Hull City teammates Adama Diomande and Markus Henriksen are also likely to make the squad, along with highly-regarded goalkeeper Rune Jarstein.

Norway finished adrift of Germany, Northern Ireland and Czech Republic in their ill-fated World Cup qualification campaign.

It will be “extra special” for Gersbach, if he gets to line up at the Ullevaal Stadion against several teammates.

“If I make the final squad, it will be a great feeling for me, especially if some of the Rosenborg boys play,” he added.

“I’ve got great mates there and it would be amazing to play at the national stadium.

“I’m feeling good about my football ... I’ve been playing regularly over the past month or so.

“I’m getting that rhythm back into my game.”

On the likely weather conditions facing Australia, Gersbach said: “It doesn’t warm up till June or July and is cold again in August, so you wouldn’t be expecting too much in March.”

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
4 min read
Published 7 March 2018 at 5:01pm
By Dave Lewis