Sunday 28th June – 00:30 – BC Place
England can make even more history at the Women’s World Cup if they beat Canada in the quarter-finals. After finishing second in Group F, the Lionesses had to come from behind to beat Norway in the Round of 16, Lucy Bronze’s stunning first time strike from outside the box proving to be the winner. It was a 2-1 victory for the third game in a row, but it was enough to earn a knockout World Cup win for the first time in our history – the semi-finals have never been reached by any English female side though. Hosts Canada have reached the last four once before, in 2003, but this year was only the second time they have made it out of the group. Unlike England, they are yet to lose at the tournament and beat Switzerland 1-0 in their round of 16 tie. Canada are coached by Englishman John Herdman, so there will definitely be a British manager in the semi-finals. But who will it be? Kick-off might be late, but trust me, this game will definitely be worth staying up for. BBC One are showing the game live from midnight tonight, with the match starting half an hour later.
England Team News
- Katie Chapman could once again start in midfield ahead of Jill Scott because of the physical nature of Canada’s team.
- Substitutions have changed games for Mark Sampson so far, and the likes of Scott, Eni Aluko and Jordan Nobbs could all come on if England need to up their game.
- Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton and Fara Williams are the only players to start all four games so far at the World Cup, whilst all 20 outfield players have played some part in the tournament.
The Key Battle: Toni Duggan vs Kadeisha Buchanan
Such is Mark Sampson’s unpredictable rotation policy, it is unknown whether he will start Toni Duggan or Eni Aluko against Canada, or perhaps both! I’ve gone for the latter who has began the last three games.
However, the Manchester City forward is yet to hit the back of the net at the tournament, something she will want to change in Vancouver. Having said that, England have been trying to launch the ball up to Duggan, and the 23 year old isn’t the kind of player to run after the ball.
Another player with a very bright future ahead of her is 19 year old Kadeisha Buchanan. Canada may not have scored that many goals, but they’ve conceded just the one and kept three clean sheets, and the centre-back has played a huge part of that, proving to be a rock at the back and one of the stars of the tournament.
Manager John Herdman has referred to Buchanan as one of the best central defenders in the world, and winning Canada’s Under-20 Women’s Player of the Year in 2013 shows that she has the potential to be, whilst her performances at this tournament suggest she may already be.
Whether it’s Duggan or Aluko who starts, they certainly won’t have an easy time.
Last Meeting: Canada 1-0 England (29th May 2015)
England’s final warm-up match for this World Cup ended in a narrow defeat by host Canada. Sophie Schmidt grabbed the only goal of the game midway through the first half, bending a shot into the top corner from 18 yards. Lionesses midfielder Fara Williams hit the bar late on with an audacious effort from range but Mark Sampson’s side were unable to find an equaliser.
The Canada Lowdown
- Manager: John Herdman
- Captain: Christine Sinclair
- World Ranking: 8th
- Best World Cup Performance: 4th Place (2003)
Star Player – Christine Sinclair
There’s the pressure of a whole nation on Canadian captain Christine Sinclair’s shoulders, and so far she’s doing rather well. The 32 year old scored the winning goal in second half stoppage time in the opener against China and since then has played every single minute to lead the hosts to only their second ever World Cup quarter-final. Sinclair plays for Portland Thorns alongside England’s Jodie Taylor, and is ranked third worldwide in all-time international goals scored (154) after Abby Wambach (180) and Mia Hamm (158). Although she may not beat the record this tournament, that statistic shows you the quality she possesses and how long she has been hitting the back of the net for.
The hosts have been focusing all of their attentions on the World Cup since last October, when Consett-born head coach John Herdman called the squad together for the first training camp. A number of players have deliberately been without clubs this season, while those who do have them have been returning to base in between games and generally limiting their availability at club level. Winning Bronze at the 2012 Olympics combined with the 1,786 caps shared between the squad should ensure they don’t freeze on the big stage.
Despite all the hype, Canada haven’t really set this tournament alight and are one of the easiest quarter-final opponents that England could have asked for. They needed a late penalty to beat China, played out a goalless draw New Zealand and then drew again, 1-1 this time to the Netherlands. They then only beat Switzerland 1-0 in the round of 16, meaning that the hosts have only scored three times this tournament, and never more than once in again. There’s a lack of support for Christine Sinclair, who can’t do it all by herself. If England can score twice, Canada may struggle to match or better that tally. They’ve not really been tested so far, with relatively weak opposition.
My Prediction: England 1-0 Canada
I’ve highlighted Canada’s goalscoring problems as well as strengths at the back, meaning this is likely to be a low scoring game but hopefully an England win. I have confidence in Mark Sampson’s team, who themselves have grown in confidence with three wins on the trot. A solitary goal from Fara Williams should make it four and send the Lionesses into a first ever World Cup semi-final. In the process, they will become a whole country’s number one enemy.