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2019 Women's World Cup

Canada readies for toughest test yet from Netherlands

REIMS – Top spot in Group E will be on the line when Canada and the Netherlands battle on Thursday at Stade Auguste-Delaune. Both teams have already secured a spot in the round of sixteen. A win for either side will result in a perfect 3-0-0 record, and first place. A draw would result in the Netherlands taking top spot, by virtue of the third tiebreaker scenario, goals scored. Canada has scored one fewer goal than the Netherlands, (4-3).

“We’re definitely going to be up for a battle for this one,” Adriana Leon explained to The Equalizer. “We are anticipating that they’re going to be better than, what we’ve played in this tournament so far. We’re gearing up for it, and we’ll be ready.”

Canada shook off the nerves to defeat Cameroon, 1-0, and they ran circles around New Zealand in a possession dominating, 2-0 victory. The reigning 2017 European champions will offer a much more difficult challenge from Canada’s two previous opponents.

“I’m definitely envisioning a more even game,” Christine Sinclair revealed. “Where both teams have chances, and both teams have spells of possession of the ball. I don’t think either team is going to sit back and try to absorb the other teams pressure. I don’t think that’s how either of us play. Yeah, hopefully an exciting game, a little bit of end to end.”

A 7-0-3 record has Canada unbeaten in 2019. Coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller has his team locked in, poised, and playing with structure that’s seen them concede only once this year. It’s important that Canada continues to keep their momentum going. It’s not enough to just qualify for the next round. Canada wants to beat the Netherlands.

“It’s a tournament, you want to win every game,” Sinclair explained. “You don’t want to leave things in other teams hands. I think if you start playing the game of, ‘Oh, who would we rather play,’ it gets very dangerous. We’re a world class team, and we know that. Teams have to start fearing us. If we play our best, we know we can beat anyone.”

The runner-up in Group E will travel to the Parc des Princes, in Paris to take on the Group F runner-up, either the U.S. or Sweden. The Group D runner-up, England, Japan, or Argentina will be the opponent for the Group E winner in Rennes.

The 2015 World Cup also saw Canada and the Netherlands matchup in the group stage. Ashley Lawrence scored an early goal, but it was a late tally from Kirsten van de Ven that earned each side a point in a 1-1 draw.

“I think they have players with quality,” Lawrence explained. “They have players playing in top environments, but we’re ready. These last few months, we’ve played against opposition of different caliber. We’re prepared to go into the game, we’re confident, and it’s just about imposing ourselves on them.”

Four years on, and Sinclair has seen both teams make massive strides.

“I think both teams have improved tremendously. The team we are now, compared to four years ago is leaps and bounds ahead of where we were. Just the style of play has completely changed. Those youngsters that were experiencing their first World Cup are now leaders on this team. Holland, since the last World Cup, they’ve gone on and won the Euro’s. We’re both on the up.”

There isn’t just one single attacking threat that Canada will have to watch out for. Cameroon and New Zealand were limited in what they could do offensively. The Netherlands offence has the ability to turn up and cause a lot of havoc.

Canada’s defense will have to be exceptional if they’re going to take all three points. Anytime you can put out a lineup that features Vivianne Miedema, Shanice van de Sanden, and Lieke Martens, you’re going to be in any football match. The Netherlands also have quality in Danielle van de Donk, Jackie Groenen, and Sherida Spitse.

“We know that they have pacey, and skilled wingers,” Leon said. “They have a skilled number nine, (Miedema), who likes to get on the ball, and scores a lot of goals for her country. We’ll be looking to shut them down up front, and take advantage of their weaker back line.”

Canada wants to show the world that they can win against top caliber opponents like the Netherlands. As Canada progress, the competition will only get tougher. This is the perfect time for Canada to play a tier one side as they move forward at the World Cup.

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