Norway
© AFP

Norway, traditionally one of the strongest nations in the world of international women's football, have won everything there is to win. At each FIFA Women's World Cup™, the Norwegians have reached the quarter-finals as a minimum, winning the trophy at the 1995 finals in Sweden. Norway are one of only three teams in Europe, along with Sweden and Germany, who have claimed the title of European champions (1987 and 1993). Norway also won Olympic Gold at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

At the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003, Norway started out among the favourites to win, but were eliminated in the quarter-finals by the host nation. Four years later at the China 2007 showcase, the Gresshoppene advanced to the semi-finals, but were beaten by eventual winners Germany, and also lost the match for third place to the USA. The Scandinavians also reached the quarter-finals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, after missing out on the Athens Games four years earlier due to their early elimination from the FIFA Women's World Cup.

The road to Germany

In the European qualifying round, Norway finished top of Group 2 on 22 points, winning seven of their eight matches and drawing the other against the Netherlands. In the play-offs, the Gresshoppene eased to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Ukraine, sealing their sixth FIFA Women's World Cup finals appearance in succession.

The star players

Every area of the team looks strong, despite the loss of inspirational long-serving goalkeeper Bente Nordby. Other key players include Lene Mykjaland (Washington Freedom), Ingvild Stensland and Isabell Lehn Herlovsen (both Lyon).

The coach
Eli Landsem has been masterminding the skills of the Norwegian women's football team since October 2009, after Bjarne Berntsen resigned his post as head coach following the UEFA Women's EURO 2009 in Finland. Berntsen had taken over the team before the 2005 European championships and started introducing fresh young blood, including the likes of Isabell Herlovsen, who was only 16 at the time.

Landsem, the first female coach of the Norway women's team, gained experience in women's football as coach of Asker SK, and successfully transferred her expertise into the Gresshoppene set-up, as their effortless qualification for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 goes to prove. 

Previous FIFA Women’s World Cups

  • Runners-up at the FIFA Women's World Cup China 1991
  • Champions at the FIFA Women's World Cup Sweden 1995
  • Fourth place at the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 1999
  • Quarter-finals at the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003
  • Fourth at the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007
The stat
2 –
Despite the retirement of Bente Nordby, Norway have remained very strong defensively - the team only conceded 2 goals in their 8 qualifying matches for Germany 2011. Norway and France were the teams with the least goals conceded in the European preliminary phase.

What they said

Norway have never missed a World Cup or Women’s EURO, so we have a proud history. I think we have a decent chance at the World Cup. Anything can happen, and I hope we’re in with a shout of a medal. We could win gold, but everything would have to go our way for that to happen.” Norway midfielder Leni Larsen Kaurin told FIFA.com.