Alberto P. Sierra


returns to Spain a star

Martin Odegaard returns to Spain to face La Roja. After spells at Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, he’s back on Spanish soil as Norway’s main man.

Saturday’s clash in Málaga is Spain and Norway’s first outing in Euro 2024 qualifying, as the hosts begin life under new boss Luis de la Fuente.

Erling Haaland would have been Norway’s major attacking threat - but the Man City ace is injured, robbing Odegaard of his chief partner in crime.

It’s a special game for Odegaard. It’ll  be his first for a while in Spain, a  country he moved to as an adolescent when he joined Madrid in 2015.

Over the last eight years, he has blossomed from bright prospect into Premier League leading light. He's helped Arsenal to the top of the table.

Odegaard’s last game in Spain was in 2021, in the North Londoners' Europa League semi against Villarreal. They ended up bowing out to the Groguets.

At that point, he was still settling in at Arsenal. Now, he captains both the Gunners and Norway, having become a dominant force on the elite stage.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tried Odegaard in central midfield and even on the wing, but it’s at No. 10 that he has truly hit form for the club.

His game has come on hugely since  his time in Spanish soccer. Allied with his vision and passing precision, he’s now scoring with greater frequency.

Flanked by Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, he’s getting forward and setting his sights on goal far more. His league return of 10 this term is his best ever.

With seven assists to his name too,  he’s flourishing in the hole for Arsenal. But what about Norway: what role does he play in Stale Solbakken's side?

The Norwegians tend to set up in a 4-3-3, with Odegaard on the right of midfield. Given his deeper position, he's directly involved in fewer goals.

Although he has more than 40 caps, Odegaard has only scored twice for Norway. Nevertheless, his passing will make him a constant threat to Spain.

He’ll be out to get the better of  former club-mates such as Nacho,  Dani Carvajal, Martín Zubimendi, Álvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal.