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The team standing between England and the last four – Norway in focus

Norway are unable to call on Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg, who has refused to play for her country since 2017.

Norway have reached the World Cup finals for the first time since 2007 (Thibault Camus/AP)
Norway have reached the World Cup finals for the first time since 2007 (Thibault Camus/AP)

England play Norway in Le Havre on Thursday for a place in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup.

Norway reached the last eight for the first time since 2007 by beating Australia on 4-1 on penalties in their last-16 clash on Saturday.

Here, Press Association takes a closer look at England’s opposition, who are 12th in FIFA’s rankings, nine places below Phil Neville’s side.

Manager

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Martin Sjogren has been Norway’s coach for two-and-a-half years (Thibault Camus/AP)

Swede Martin Sjogren, 42, had just won the Swedish title as manager of Linkoping when in December 2016 he was named as a surprise replacement for Even Pellerud, who had guided Norway to World Cup glory in 1995. Sjogren’s first major tournament was a disappointment as Norway crashed out of Euro 2017 in the group stages without scoring a goal. But they bounced back to finish top of their World Cup qualifying group by beating Holland in their decisive match.

Players

Caroline Graham Hansen has been one of the tournament’s leading players so far. The Barcelona winger, who scored a penalty in Norway’s group win against South Korea, has showcased her dribbling ability at pace and crashed a shot out of nowhere against a post in their last-16 win against Australia. Striker Isabell Herlovsen, plus midfielders Guro Reiten and Ingrid Engen are also on top of their game.

Form

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Norway celebrate after winning their penalty shoot-out against Australia (Thibault Camus/AP)

Norway put their disappointing Euros display behind them to finish top of their World Cup qualifying group and have maintained their momentum in France. Group wins over Nigeria and South Korea sandwiched a narrow defeat to the hosts before Sjogren’s side held their nerve in Saturday’s last-16 clash with Australia, serving up a penalty masterclass in a shootout win, with all four spot-kick takers scoring after the game had ended 1-1 at the end of extra-time.

No star turn

Ada Hegerberg, winner of the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, has refused to play for her home nation since the 2017 Euros in protest at how she perceived women footballers were being treated in Norway. The Lyon striker, 23, quit international football just months before the Norwegian Football Association (NFF) and the nation’s players’ association (NISO) signed an historic equal pay agreement.

PA

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