Hitzfeld wary of Norway, Iceland

Switzerland boss Ottmar Hitzfeld is aiming for maximum points from their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Norway and Iceland, but has warned that "anyone can beat anyone" in Group E.

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The Swiss currently top the table after winning their opening two matches against Slovenia and Albania, while a surprise defeat in Iceland in the opening round of matches has left the Norwegians playing catch-up.

"This game is important for both, because the two favourites meet," Hitzfeld told reporters ahead of Friday's match in Bern.

"It is a very even group and anyone can beat anyone. If we play at our best, we have a good chance.

"The Norwegians have a direct style. They will operate with high balls. We must adapt to this style of play, but we have to play our own game and seize the opportunities efficiently."

Norway captain Brede Hangeland gave an honest assessment of their opponents ahead of the game and spoke of the importance of scoring the opening goal.

"On paper, they have probably a stronger team than us, if you look at the clubs they play in," he told Norwegian paper Nettavisen.

"Conceding first is an incredibly huge disadvantage in international football, and especially for Norway with the way we play. It's something we try to avoid at all costs."

Hangeland's likely centre half partner Kjetil Waehler missed Thursday's training session but is likely to be fit to face the Swiss.

Albania and Iceland will be looking to pick up their second victories of qualifying when they face-off at the Qemal Stafa Stadium.

Iceland coach Lars Lagerback says his side will not take Albania lightly after they opened their campaign with a 3-1 win over Cyprus, before losing to group favourites Switzerland last time out.

"Albania is a good team, and we show respect to Albania as a football nation," he said.

"They are physically strong players, and the team has been unlucky not to achieve better results in the past, because here many big football nations get into trouble."

Albania coach Gianni De Biasi is aiming for victory and is also confident his side can beat Slovenia on Tuesday.

"We want to get the full six points," he said. "We believe this is possible but as we are Albania and are not Real Madrid or Spain, this cannot be guaranteed."

The other game in the group sees Slovenia host Cyprus at the Stadion Ljudski vrt, with the latter full of confidence following their shock victory over Iceland, their first victory since August last year.

Slovenia have lost both of their matches so far against Norway and Switzerland.



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