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Opinion: Rising star Erling Braut Haaland could steal show if Norway reach Euros

Erling Braut Haaland took his goals tally in Europe to 10 this term with a decisive double that gave Borussia Dortmund the edge in their Champions League last-16 tie with French champions PSG on Tuesday night.

He has only been with the Bundesliga big boys a matter of weeks, but has scored 11 in seven across all competitions already.

Haaland is the talk of Europe with many teams, including those in the Premier League, ruing not moving to sign him.

His first strike against PSG was a poacher’s finish; the second a thunderbolt that won the home leg for Dortmund.

Haaland doesn’t even stop being a teenager until after Euro 2020, but he could yet be one of the stars of the tournament.

It’s only a maybe because Norway have a tough play-off path to reach the Euro finals.

They play Serbia at home on 26 March and are 13/8 with Betfair to win the game in 90 minutes. If they get through that, then they face the winner of Scotland v Israel.

There is a danger of oversimplifying this particular Euro 2020 play-off semi and billing it as a tale of two strikers.

For Serbia, there is Fulham’s in-form frontman Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has torn things up in the Championship – where he’s in line for the Golden Boot – and scored 10 goals in qualifying.

For Norway, there’s the boy wonder Haaland with just two caps and pushing for more regular involvement.

A seasonal tally of 39 goals and counting presses his claims very strongly indeed.

Despite that, of the four teams in Path C, Serbia are 13/8 favourites in the betting to come out of the play-offs and qualify for Euro 2020.

They are not a one-man team by any means, for all they get the best out of Mitrovic up front.

While Luka Jovic’s transfer to Real Madrid hasn’t seen him replicate the fine form he showed in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, he has made the move to the Bernabeu very young and there are few hiding places in that bright glare.

Playing for his country alongside or off the bench for Mitrovic may be an escape for the talented 22-year-old.

Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, meanwhile, was named Serie A player of the month for December and is having another fine season.

Backed up by solid holding midfielders like Nemanja Matic and Luka Milivojevic, he has more to offer on international duty.

Hosts Norway are 7/4 in the latest football odds to reach the finals.

It’s strange to see this market not quite reflecting the match odds for the Serbia game, especially with home advantage in both the semi and potential play-off final.

Haaland won’t have the burden of firing Norway to the Euros on his shoulders alone. Bournemouth’s Joshua King netted five times in regular qualifying, so the former Manchester United forward can be a handful.

There have been a few next big things in Norwegian football in recent years.

Martin Odegaard springs to mind as one that like so many before him has not lived up to the hype, but Haaland has done everything to suggest he is the real deal.

A first international goal against Serbia would cap what has been the mother of all breakout seasons and a meteoric rise to prominence. If Norway can get there, then Haaland could prove a real hit at the Euros.

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