'But they’ve not even qualified yet...'

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Let’s air the obvious rebuttals immediately. Norway must emerge from a four-nation play-off to reach the European Championships – a semi-final at home to Serbia and, should they survive, a final at home against Scotland or Israel. They have qualified just once for a Euros. Were it not for the emergence of one player, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

But that player has emerged.

The rise of Erling Haaland feels like a predictable spin-off from the Goal movie franchise. Young kid shows flashes of talent in his homeland, is shipped off to Austria and takes the world by storm, quickly earning a move to a German giant and banging in a hat-trick off the bench on his debut.

Haaland on Norway's next generation

His rise has been astonishing, he only made his international debut for Norway – a nation who consider Bournemouth’s Josh King indispensable – in September. So why on earth have they got a shot at the rearranged Euros?

Firstly, international tournament is weaker than club football. It is possible for one or two great players to galvanise those around them and carry them to success.

Norway doesn't have any great players in April 2020. But by June 2021, there is every chance they will have two. Not only does Haaland show no signs of slowing down at Borussia Dortmund, but Martin Odegaard is finally fulfilling his potential on loan at Real Sociedad after his move to Real Madrid aged 16 backfired.

Sociedad were fourth in the La Liga table before the enforced coronavirus interruption, with Odegaard showing the creativity and composure in possession that sparked that ill-advised European tour when he was a teenager. And they may only need two brilliant players when the country-hopping extravaganza finally rolls around next summer, as highlighted by another nation four years ago...

The birth of a superstar: When Haaland scored 4 goals in 21 minutes for Molde

Wales’ run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016 was built on the brilliance of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, with their talents helping raise the level of those around them. Where the Welsh had Ashley Williams in defence, Norway have the imposing Kristoffer Ajer, who is being tipped for a move away from Celtic to a top European club this summer.

If Odegaard and Haaland are being marked out of the game? No problem, with Ajer's speciality dribbling out of defence, an impressive sight given his 6'5" frame. Ahead of him is Sander Berge who, if you believe the song, will be playing in Europe next season with new club Sheffield United.

Still not convinced? Norway have tasted defeat just once since October 2018, going down to a late Sergio Ramos penalty against Spain in qualifying. They held the 2010 world champions in the reverse fixture, finished third in a tricky qualifying group that also contained Sweden and Romania. That wouldn’t usually be cause for celebration, until you remember that this was all without Haaland. And the kid's very excited about Norway…

"Sander Berge is playing in Premier League, Ajer has been playing in Scotland for some years now, so we’ve got good talent but we’ve also got good football players, we can’t forget that," Haaland exclusively told Eurosport Norway earlier in April.

"I think that Norway has a lot of good years ahead, I know we have good years ahead, I’m sure of that, and now we have to show that for the national team as well, for our country."

OK, but surely they have a naff coach? Wrong again. Sweden's Lars Lagerback, who masterminded Iceland's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, is now at the helm. His philosophy of hard work and having an organised defence suits a team with few stand-out individuals. Keep it tight and hope for a flash of inspiration down the other end.

Lagerback now has extra time to stitch it all together and ensure Haaland and Odegaard are central to his plans. Should they qualify for Euro 2020, and they look well-placed to do so, they would drop into England's group alongside an aging Croatia and mediocre Czech Republic. Given the reward for finishing first in that group is a last 16 tie against Portugal, France or Germany, Norway can pin their hopes on sneaking through, avoiding the big names and causing a ripple on international soil.

Why shouldn’t they dream?

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