VANCOUVER, B.C – To win any kind of championship in sports, you need to have an unbreakable defense. A solid core group of defensive-minded difference-makers who can set the tone and shut down a high-flying attack from the opposition.
Canada will look to their strong defense to help guide them to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, in Lyon on July 7. While Christine Sinclair is Canada’s biggest attacking threat, the defense in front of goalkeeper Steph Labbe will have to shut the door if Canada is going to have success in France.
In 2019, Canada have been unbeatable, with a 6-0-2 record so far. Since the turn of the calendar, the red and white have conceded just one goal, and have earned impressive clean sheets against the likes of Norway, Sweden, Scotland, England, and Spain. Coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller has his team locked in defensively as they head into the World Cup, and a quiet, composed confidence is building for Canada at just the right time.
“I think that the statistics kind of speak for [themselves],” Canada’s Rebecca Quinn explained to The Equalizer from Spain. “There is no change of stride in 2019. We’re really strong and we have a had a lot of interchange. It’s really crucial to us, and it’s really part of our identity.”
Canada’s starting back four will consist of Allysha Chapman, Shelina Zadorsky, Kadeisha Buchanan, and Ashley Lawrence. You can also expect to see Quinn, Shannon Woeller, Lindsey Agnew, and Jenna Hellstrom, as Canada mixes and matches with different tactical approaches.
The 23-year-old, Quinn could be asked to play in a back four or a three-center-back formation, and can also play in front of the back line as a holding midfielder. Quinn’s versatility is a big part of her game, and it’s also what Canada does so very well.
“It’s not really new to me,” Quinn revealed. “I have a pretty long history of interchanging. I played holding mid and attacking mid in university. In the national team and club level there’s been a lot of interchange. It’s helpful to the team when you can play both positions. It’s helpful to have a better understanding, and I think it’s an advantage to me.”
If Canada is going to use a defense-first, offense-second style of play, it could catch Group E opposition Cameroon, New Zealand, and the Netherlands off guard. We’ve often seen an outstanding defense take some of the pressure off an inconsistent offense and deliver a team a championship. A defensive-minded Canadian side could pull out all the stops.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Quinn said. “I do think that a strong defense is key to winning the World Cup. We need a complete team and everyone performing. I do think that’s one component. The forwards are also going to complete their job. It’s crucial to it, but not the whole picture.”
The Toronto, Ontario native will make her World Cup debut in France, and for Quinn, and her family, it’s longtime dream come true to earn a World Cup roster spot.
“It’s pretty indescribable,” Quinn explained. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was collecting panini cards and hiding them in my desk at school. Making the roster is step one. I’m pretty excited, and my family is excited, but on to the next task, which is winning it.”
Quinn, who plays her club football for Paris FC, hasn’t allowed herself to look past what could be a challenging Group E. If Canada finishes first or second in group play, they could face England, Japan, Sweden, or the arch-rival US in a round-of-sixteen knockout match. The task at hand, though, is Group E, and Canada aren’t getting ahead of themselves.
“I think we’re going to take it as another tournament,” Quinn explained. “We just need to perform against every opponent. We’re going to start with game one, and go from there. It can go any sort of direction. We’re going to smash the first three games.”
The World Cup is an opportunity for players to break out and star on the biggest stage. Rebecca Quinn will be looking to make a difference for Canada as they hope to surprise everyone with a lights-out defense.
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