Olympics 2020 Preview: United States vs Canada, Can Alex Morgan once again fire the USA to the Finals?
The semi-final fixtures for the women’s football tournament will provide some mouth-watering entertainment. Neighbours and long rivals, the United States and Canada will face-off in the first semi-final fixture in the Tokyo Olympics. Both teams did not have the best of campaigns so far but managed to claw their way past their opponents in the quarters. The United States and Canada both defeated their quarter-final opponents, Netherlands and Brazil in a penalty shootout.
Outrageous day in the women’s football quarter-finals… ⚽️
🇬🇧 3-4 🇦🇺 (AET)
🇸🇪 3-1 🇯🇵
🇳🇱 2-2 🇺🇸 (🇺🇸 wins 4-2 on penalties)
🇨🇦 0-0 🇧🇷 (🇨🇦 wins 4-3 on penalties) pic.twitter.com/TO8dWCk51V
— Olympics (@Olympics) July 30, 2021
The United States Women’s national team is most often than not the favourites heading into any tournament. Their dominance in the football world has gained a lot of attention over the years. However, winning just one game so far in the tournament, the United States national team has been showing signs of vulnerability, one Canada will look to exploit.
🔢 And then there were FOUR
🥇🥈🥉 We've reached the #OlympicFootball medal round after a thrilling day of quarter-final action
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) July 30, 2021
Canada didn’t do wonders either. Their goalless draw against Brazil in the quarters wasn’t the ideal result. The penalty shootout could have gone either way and they were lucky to go through. This time though, Canada will have extra motivation to outperform their rivals. Canada’s thirst for redemption against the United States should be the ideal driving point. Having won bronze in the previous two editions, a final appearance is what Canada hopes to achieve.
The United States boasts the more known players compared to the Canadian roaster. From Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe to Carli Llyod and Lynn Williams, the USA national women’s team boasts a scintillating attacking line-up. But unfortunately, this fabled set of players have misfired this tournament, scoring far fewer goals than expected. The reference of a must-win rivalry should help them bring their shooting boots back.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) July 30, 2021
UNITED STATES EXPECTED LINE-UP: NAEHER; O’HARA, DAHLKEMPER, SAUERBRUNN, DUNN; HORAN, ERTZ, MEWIS, WILLIAMS, HEATH, LLYOD
The Canadian team is no slack either. Although not as well known, their roaster does possess the capability to win this fixture. The presence of a 38-year-old Christine Sinclair in the attacking region will be the focal point of the team.
I LOVE THIS TEAM SO MUCH 😭❤️🔥🇨🇦
Thank you for all your support Canada! OLYMPIC SEMIS HERE WE COME 🤩🥲 pic.twitter.com/lYKlFsIF63
— Stephanie Labbé (@stephlabbe1) July 30, 2021
CANADA EXPECTED LINE-UP: Labbe; Buchanan, Chapman, Gilles, Lawrence; Quinn, Fleming, Scott; Sinclair, Prince, Beckie
Twenty-five-year-old Canadian centre-back Vanessa Gilles was a deciding factor in helping Canada through to the semi-finals. The Bordeaux centre-back single handily defended many of the Brazilians attacks in the quarter-finals. Canada’s lack of goal-scoring prowess is an issue for the national team. However, Canada’s willingness to deny space and defend as a unit will be crucial against a United States team that is capable of free-flowing attacking football.
Gilles will need to be at her best when facing their semi-final opposition. Although their neighbours do not seem to be playing their best football, their talented roaster is capable of churning a goal out of nothing. Gilles and her defensive capabilities will be crucial to Canada’s dreams of an Olympic final.
Although Alex Morgan scored just one goal and underperformed by her standards, she is still tipped to be the game-changer in the upcoming fixture. Whether it be a starting role or one off the bench, Morgan’s capability to lead an attacking unit, create chances and take shots is a useful asset to the national team.
With various attacking options in the likes of Carli Llyod, Lynn Williams, Tobi Heath and even Megan Rapinoe, the national team can juggle their players according to the game plan. However, Alex Morgan’s ability to drive attacking units is a capability that they would need against a deep-lying compact Canadian team. Will she once again fire the USA to the finals as she did in 2012?
The United States have the edge going into the match. History, head-to-head and form are in their favour. But, their lack of guile in this tournament has exposed vulnerabilities in the team. Although Canada doesn’t boast the same talent scale as their rivals, their ability to play as a team might well be the deciding factor. FootTheBall predicts a win for Canada. USA 1-2 Canada.