Before the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Canada coach John Herdman predicted his squad would definitely reach the quarter finals. It wasn’t exactly a huge leap — the team is ranked eighth in the world, and came away from the 2012 Olympics with a bronze medal — but announcing they would win the tournament on home soil would have placed undue pressure on a team already in transition from Christine Sinclair’s personal playground to a roster with a diverse attack.
Do they have enough to get by the Brits? A review of the tape says, definitively, nope. In their round of 16 game against #11 Norway, England scored two world class goals, one a text book corner kick, and the other a booming right foot to the top corner after a series of three quality one-touch passes. They’re such an exciting squad that folks on British TV seem to be having a rather physical response. (Reminder: punctuation is important.)
Canada, on the other hand, as scored just three goals in the entire tournament. Sinclair put away a late PK to beat the Chinese in the World Cup-opening game, Ashley Lawrence finished a broken play against the Netherlands, and Josée Belanger took advantage of a scrambly cross late in the Switzerland game to boot the ball home from 13 yards.
The teams actually match up fairly well. Canada plays an aggressive style, low on finesse but high on passion and power. They like to attack, and feel good trying to make plays on the run. Look for Belanger and Lawrence to run straight at the opposition defense, looking for that extra step, and pressuring missteps whenever possible. England has a more traditional, patient approach — they know this game inside and out, and prefer set plays to track meets. Watch for them to slow the play down when they possess the ball; they’ll work triangles to their advantage, and try to run behind stationary defenders.
Prediction: This game goes to penalties, tied 1-1 after regulation. Kicks are a lottery, so who’s to say who wins at that point? *shrug* Canada on PKs.