Switzerland 0-0 Norway: Grasshoppene’s bid to progress takes another damaging blow

After a disappointing loss to New Zealand in the opening match of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Hege Riise opted to deprive Julie Blakstad, Caroline Graham Hansen and Ingrid Engen from their respective spots in the Norwegian starting eleven. If the Grasshoppene succumbed to another defeat, they’d face an embarrassing elimination from the group stage – while Switzerland would seal their place in the round-of-sixteen.

SUI: Thalmann; Maritz, Stierli, Riesen, Aigbogun; Reuteler, Wälti, Sow; Bachmann, Crnogorčević, Piubel

NOR: Mikalsen; Hansen, Harviken, Mjelde, Bjelde; Reiten, Bøe Risa, Maanum; Haavi, Roman Haug, Eikeland

With Hege Riise having already made three changes to her starting lineup, a fourth was added just seconds before kickoff – as Ada Hegerberg was seen heading down the tunnel. While the official statement indicates that the Lyon striker suffered a groin injury, videos circulating would indicate otherwise. She was replaced by Sophie Román Haug, who plays her club football for AS Roma.

And while some might look to that enforced late change as the reason for Norway’s slow start to the match, the warning signs were clear too see against New Zealand – with rumours of tactical disagreements since emerging from the camp. Switzerland, seemingly free from the shackles of any such controversy, enjoyed a bright start to the fixture.

There were chances for both sides in the opening half hour, with Thea Bjelde forced into action to deny a certain goal from Ramona Bachmann – but Norway began to assert their dominance as the game matured, with Maren Mjelde snatching an effort over the bar. Frida Magnum’s cross into the box looked to be turned towards goal by Román Haug, though the deputy striker’s effort was saved well by Thalmann; Amalie Eikeland blasted the rebound wide.

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There was nothing to separate both sides as they headed down the tunnel – which arguably was a worse situation to be in for Norway. The Grasshoppene were evidently aware of the potential consequences of a poor result, and came out strongly in the first half though Maanum scuffed a great opportunity wide of the post.

The chances simply didn’t stop coming for Hege Riise’s side, who were unlucky not to take the lead as Maren Mjelde’s header bobbled into the arms of Gaëlle Thalmann. The ‘keeper was put to work again soon after, parrying Román Haug’s effort away from the target.

Caroline Graham Hansen found a way to penetrate the Swiss defence, weaving her way through three defenders – but Thalmann was able to deny her strike, and also kept Magnum’s rebounded effort out as the pressure continued to mount.

Despite the seemingly endless attacking threat from both sides throughout this match, the game culminated in a goalless draw – which applies pressure firmly onto Norwegian shoulders as they must win their final fixture to stand a chance of progressing to the round-of-sixteen. Group A action will conclude at 8am UK time on July 30, as Switzerland play New Zealand, and Norway face the Philippines.