Great Britain vs. Canada
City of Coventry Stadium
This is it. The route to the big one.
If the Group Stage matches have been instructive in demonstrating the capability of Hope Powell’s Great British charges, then the knockout phase of the competition is really the time to show they have the grit to accompany the glide. By defeating Brazil and in the process topping Group E, Great Britain have avoided the theoretically tougher task of overcoming world champions Japan, although looking back at the respective performances across the Games, Canada may well be the tougher opposition.
Ranked 7 in the world, Canada’s 4-point haul from a competitive group may not look impressive in comparison to England’s 100% record, but the North American side will present stern opposition. Well-drilled, meticulously prepared and fronted by Christine Sinclair, a player with 139 international goals to her name, Canada will require Great Britain to show composure in all areas of the pitch.
Defensively, Great Britain will need to show command of the full back positions. While Sinclair may be the star, Melissa Tancredi’s 4 goals in the opening 3 matches are the real reason for Canada’s quarter final appearance. Playing from the left of the forward line, she has thrived in this tournament on crosses from wide areas, both from deep and at the by-line and demonstrated impeccable timing, particularly in her first goal of the comeback against Sweden in round 3. While Great Britain’s defensive attentions will be primed on denying Christine Sinclair the space to add to her astonishing goal tally, Alex Scott in particular will need to be wary of Tancredi’s movement around the box. Communication across the defensive line will be imperative in maintaining the home nation’s run of clean sheets to date. Fingers crossed.
- Christine Sinclair
With two goals in the tournament to date, both against South Africa, Sinclair has maintained her astonishing goal scoring record in yet another tournament. Less recognised is her excellent build up play, with key contributions to both Melissa Tancredi’s goals in the comeback draw against Sweden in the last match. Alex Scott ranks Sinclair in the same bracket as Brazil’s Marta; if she is given the time and space in the box, Great Britain’s chances will be severely under threat
- Melissa Tancredi
30-year old Tancredi may have the career record of a true footballing journeyman, but she comes into this game in the form of her life. Stubborn to the point of bloody-mindedness in her play, she can drift out of games entirely, but thrives on balls played in from wide areas and has a keen sense of timing and an eye for the diagonal run between full back and centre half. Between Tancredi and Sinclair, Great Britain’s back four will have their work severely cut out for them.
- Steph Houghton
The left back may be making her name as the host nation’s leading scorer in the tournament to date, but her defensive work, stamina and willingness to continually offer an extra player on the left flank have been truly notable throughout the tournament. Although not the quickest defender in the Great Britain ranks, Houghton’s recovery speed is phenomenal – witnessed with her outstanding penalty area challenge on Daiane late in the Brazil game – and given Canada’s aforementioned threat from the flanks, it may well be her containing discipline which proves the more vital this evening.
- Anita Asante
Diminutive at a mere 5’5’’, Anita Asante may not be the most high profile of Great Britain’s midfield unit but she has been one of the unsung heroes of the team’s progress to the Quarter Final stages. Her man-marking job on Marta in the final group match against Brazil kept perhaps the world’s best player frustrated and ineffectual. Her hard running, economical use of the ball and tactical discipline may not be as vital against a functional Canadian midfield as against Brazil’s flair runners, but if she can stop Canada reaching their wide players in the early stages of possession, the capacity for Great Britain’s full backs to get forward and support the attack will be endlessly increased.
Image from http://www.fanfootball.co.uk/team-gb-football-eye-historic-opener/ (thanks!)