Both Canada and England will be looking to make history on Saturday evening – but only one will earn a spot in the Women’s World Cup semifinals.
The hosts will be looking to set a new record for attendance at a national-team sporting event in Canada at Vancouver’s BC Place, hot on the heels of a record-setting turnout of 53,855 for Sunday’s Round of 16 match. But, more than that, John Herdman’s side will be looking to get Canada to the semifinals for the first time since 2003.
England, for their part, have already made team history by winning a Women’s World Cup knockout game for the first time in their Round of 16 triumph over Norway. This is the fourth time the Three Lionesses have appeared in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup (1995, 2007, 2011, 2015), but they’ve never made it farther.
Both teams have been fixtures within the top 10 of FIFA’s World Rankings for years; currently, England sit at No. 6, while Canada are No. 8. Both teams are led by young Brits – England have 32-year-old Mark Sampson at the helm, while Canada are managed by 39-year-old John Herdman.
And yes, both teams have Queen Elizabeth II on their money.
All signs point to a hard-fought, dramatic contest in front of what should be a raucous crowd in Vancouver. Can Canada continue their storybook march on home turf, or will England break the hosts’ hearts and write a fairy tale of their own?
How did they get here?
Canada are undefeated in four games, having won Group A with a 1-0 win over China and draws with New Zealand (0-0) and the Netherlands (1-1), followed by a 1-0 victory over Switzerland in the Round of 16. Timely goals and solid defending — particularly from 20-year-old Kadeisha Buchanan—have given Canada the results they’ve needed.
England finished second in Group F, with a 1-0 loss to France followed by 2-1 wins over Mexico and Colombia. That earned them a Round of 16 matchup with Norway; despite going down a goal, England came back to win 2-1 thanks to a wonder-strike from right back Lucy Bronze (pictured at right).
What’s the history?
The teams are quite familiar with one another. In their final tune-up before the Women’s World Cup began, Canada beat England 1-0 in front of sellout crowd in Hamilton, Ontario on May 29.
Prior to that game, however, England had beaten Canada four straight times, including in the final of the 2015 Cyprus Cup. In 11 all-time meetings, England hold a slight edge with six wins to Canada’s five. The Canadians, however, did defeat Great Britain in the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympics en route to their bronze medal.
Who are the difference makers?
Josée Bélanger was an emergency fill-in fullback for Canada in their first three World Cup games. But against Switzerland, she was back in her normal position as a striker, and she led the charge for a rejuvenated Canadian attack. She scored Canada’s goal and had two other quality shots on target. If she can bring that same punch in the quarterfinals, she’ll cause fits for the English back line.
In the English attack, Karen Carney will be the one to watch. At 27 years old, she’s played in three Women’s World Cups and has 107 international appearances. She already has two goals in this tournament and will be looking to add to her career total of 25 in perhaps the biggest game she’s ever played for England.