Preview: Norwich City vs. Toulouse – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s friendly clash between Norwich City and Toulouse, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Kufstein Arena in Austria will host Toulouse and Norwich City Tuesday in a pre-season friendly as the two sides clash for the first time.

The reigning Coupe de France winners are still without a victory in the pre-season after dropping a 5-2 decision to Werder Bremen, while the Canaries are unbeaten in its five friendlies, drawing Dutch side AK Alkmaar 1-1 in their previous encounter.

Match preview

Norwich City's Marcelino Nunez celebrates scoring their first goal on February 21, 2023© Reuters

The 2022-23 Championship campaign did not go as hoped for the Norfolk outfit, who went winless in their final six league fixtures as they wound up 13th, its lowest finish in the second tier of English football since 2017-18 (14th).

David Wagner saw his group win only one of its final 11 league fixtures last season, as Norwich suffered 18 defeats domestically, five more than in its previous two Championship campaigns combined when they won the title in 2018-19 and 2020-21.

While his team were poor throughout the tail end of last season, they seemed to improve their build-up play in the final few matches and had a clearer identity of creating numerical advantages down the flanks and all of that seems to be clicking in their friendlies played this month.

Despite its previous underwhelming campaign, the expectations for 2023-24 will be for this club to return to the Premier League, and the Canaries have been busy trying to get the right personnel together to make that dream a reality, signing 10 new players since mid-June, many of whom have top-flight experience.

Since their pre-season series began at the start of July, Wagner has seen a stingy defensive unit hold its own, conceding a goal or fewer in each of its encounters, with his side drawing first blood in all of those friendlies.

Norwich won only one of its final three Championship affairs last season when scoring first and have squandered two leads in the pre-season when doing so, drawing Barnet 1-1 and letting an early lead versus Alkmaar slip away quickly as well.

Thijs Dallinga celebrates scoring for Toulouse on April 29, 2023© Reuters

Less than three months removed from capturing only its fourth-ever trophy, Toulouse enter the 2023-24 campaign with more expectations than most sides who had only just been promoted back into the top flight a couple of years ago.

Like many clubs across Europe, Le Tele have injected youth into its squad beginning from the top, with Carles Martinez Novell appointed as the new manager after serving as an assistant under Philippe Montanier.

The Spaniard, who previously worked at the Barcelona youth academy, has been praised by Toulouse president Damien Comolli for his tactical knowledge and training methods, which according to many at the club, were decisive factors in them winning a first-ever Coupe de France.

Not only will Novell have some big shoes to fill, replacing a manager who delivered two titles while in charge, matching the entire Toulouse total from before he arrived, but the Spaniard inherits a club that lost one of its top playmakers during the summer transfer window along with some secondary scoring.

So far in the pre-season Les Violets have struggled on the backline, conceding eight goals in three encounters and scoring just three themselves, while its five goals allowed versus Werder Bremen were the most for them in a single match since they were thumped 6-1 by Marseille last December in a Ligue 1 fixture.

Tuesday will only be their third match against an English opponent, with Le Tef losing the previous two against Liverpool in the 2007/08 third-round Champions League qualifying stage, 1-0 at home and 4-0 at Anfield.

Norwich City friendly form:

Toulouse friendly form:

Norwich City manager David Wagner on February 21, 2023© Reuters

Bali Mumba left Norwich City recently to join Plymouth Argyle on a permanent deal, Przemyslaw Placheta was on the sidelines the last time out after playing an hour against Kaiserslautern, while Tim Krul and Angus Gunn each featured for a half in goal last Wednesday.

Ashley Barnes scored his fourth of the pre-season in their previous fixture, having recently joined them from Burnley, while Shane Duffy, who came over on a free transfer from Fulham, has started four of their friendlies at centre-back, usually alongside Ben Gibson.

There will be a lot of pressure on Josh Sargent to contribute more following the departure of Teemu Pukki to Minnesota United, and the American striker who led them with 13 goals in the Championship last season has one so far in the pre-season, while Gabriel Sara is still seeking his first in these friendlies after notching seven in his debut campaign in 2022-23.

Oliver Zanden continues to recover from an unknown injury for Toulouse, Nataan Skytta is dealing with a tibia fracture, and the team is still trying to figure out who can step in and fill the void left by Branco van den Boomen, who led them in assists last season (eight) after he signed with Ajax on a free transfer.

Rhys Healey left to join Watford in the Championship, while Brecht Dejaegere is now a member of Charlotte FC, leaving a lot of the goalscoring pressure on the shoulders of Thijs Dallinga and Zakaria Aboukhlal who combined for 22 of their 51 goals scored in Ligue 1 last season.

Ado Onaiwu and Mamady Bangre were on the scoresheet against Werder Bremen, while Kjetil Haug has now conceded eight goals in the pre-season.

Norwich City possible starting lineup:
Krul; Stacey, Duffy, Gibson, Giannoulis; Rowe, Nunez, Sara; Sargent, Barnes, Idah

Toulouse possible starting lineup:
Haug; Desler, Suazo, Nicolaisen; Gelabert, Genreau, Sierro, Aboukhlal; Bangre, Dallinga, Onaiwu

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We say: Norwich City 2-1 Toulouse

As we inch closer to the start of the new European campaign, we anticipate both of these coaches will begin to bring in their regulars more and more, and both teams have their share of attacking players to call upon.

Norwich may be a tier below Toulouse in their respective leagues, however they have plenty of veterans with Premier League experience and we believe their continuity will be enough to earn them another pre-season triumph.

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