CANADA vs. GERMANY
Women’s Olympic Soccer, Rio 2016 – Semifinals
Estadio Mineirão – Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Tuesday, August 16, 3 pm ET
TV: TBD (CAN) | NBCSN (USA)
The match-up is familiar, but the stakes are so much higher this time around.
Canada and Germany are set to meet in the Olympic semifinals in women’s soccer, their second clash in a week after the Canadians pulled a 2-1 upset in the final game of group-stage play on Aug. 9.
That victory (Canada’s first against Germany in 13 all-time meetings) gave Canada top spot in Group F – which, ironically, caused some consternation among fans, given that it meant a quarterfinal match-up against the dynamic French team.
On the other side of the bracket, Sweden’s upset of the No. 1-ranked United States has both of these teams dreaming of reaching the top of the podium.
Neither team has gotten to the Olympic final before, with Germany having won three bronze medals (2000, 2004, 2008) and Canada’s bronze medal at London 2012 representing its best-ever finish at an Olympics or senior World Cup.
Both teams will get to compete for a medal in Rio—but only one will earn the right to fight for the gold.
Calling in the cavalry
With knockout stage berths assured for both Canada and Germany when they met in the group stage, both teams kept a number of key players out of their starting lineups.
Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie and Kadeisha Buchanan all watched the Germany game as spectators, while Diana Matheson only came into the game as a substitute. Expect all four to get the start for John Herdman’s side in the semifinal.
For the No. 2-ranked Germans, Alexandra Popp and Sara Daebritz (neither of whom started against Canada in the group stage) will likely be back in the fold.
The match will feature the top two scorers of the tournament thus far. Germany’s Melanie Behringer, 30, leads the charge with four goals (including a penalty converted against Canada), while 21-year-old Beckie is Canada’s top goal getter in her first Olympic Games.
But Beckie’s tournament hasn’t just been about finishing; her deft touch and pinpoint cross set up Schmidt to score the decisive goal against France. Her form in the semifinal will help determine Canada’s chances of getting past Germany.
Herdman will have some shuffling to do along the back line after the quarterfinal. Fullback Josée Bélanger is out due to suspension (yellow card accumulation), while fellow fullback Allysha Chapman had her shoulder pop out in the France game after a rough on-field collision.
The Canadian manager suggested after the France game that Chapman could be available for the semifinal. Just in case, veteran fullback Marie-Eve Nault is with the team in Rio as an alternate; otherwise, Rhian Wilkinson and midfielder-turned-defender Ashley Lawrence would be Canada’s top options at the outside back positions.