Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard has warned the Gunners not to underestimate Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League on Thursday night, insisting Norwegian club football has improved in recent years following a drop in its level before that.
Bodo/Glimt are reigning Eliteserien champions and have made a strong start to the Europa League group stage, taking four points from games against PSV Eindhoven and Zurich thus far.
“They have always been a small club and they have often been between the first and second division in the Norwegian league. Sometimes up, sometimes down, but over the past few years they have been really strong,” Odegaard said in notes for Arsenal’s matchday programme, via Arsenal.com.
“They’ve made some great signings and they have an excellent coach too in Kjetil Knutsen. They have given him the time to work there and they have a very solid team now. The way they play the game, everyone knows the system and it has been working really well for them.”
Norway had strong representation in the Champions League with Rosenborg in the 1990s and early 2000s, going as far as the quarter-finals in 1997. Brann and Valerenga also went deep in the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup around the same time.
But Norwegian clubs were noticeably absent from the knockout stages of European competitions until Model’s Europa League runs in 2015/16 and 2020/21, while Bodo/Glimt got to the quarter-finals of last season’s Europa Conference League, losing to eventual champions Roma.
Odegaard, who burst onto the scene in Norway with Stromsgodset aged just 15 in 2014, discussed the fall and rise of Norwegian clubs in Europe.
“It has been a while since I was playing in Norwegian football, but I follow it still and I think over the last few years it has improved again,” the 23-year-old explained.
“There was a drop in the quality for a few years, but now I feel like it’s getting better again. It’s more competitive now, and there are a few teams up there that can fight to win the title.
In the latest episode of The Chronicles of a Gooner, Harry Symeou is joined by Tom Canton from The Gooner Talk to preview Thursday night's Europa League clash with Bodo/Glimt.
“There are some good young players coming through and the clubs have a bit more money now from playing European football and selling players on.
“Obviously there isn’t quite the same quality as we have here in the Premier League, but there’s no doubt that Norwegian football is stronger than it was and we will face a difficult game tonight.”