Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Women’s Football
Canada vs Brazil
July 30, 2021 at 4:00 am EST/5:00 pm JST
Miyagi Stadium in Rifu, Japan
Watch Live: CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Olympics app, CBC Sports’ Tokyo 2020 website.
After finishing second in Group E, Canada are into the knockout rounds at Tokyo 2020. The first obstacle between them and a third-consecutive podium finish is Brazil, who finished second in Group F.
Brazil started their tournament with a 5-0 domination of China, before they shared the points with a 3-3 draw against high-flying Netherlands in match number two. They rounded it out with a 1-0 win over Zambia in their third contest. That 3-3 draw sounds like an exciting game, but compared to the 10-3 and 8-2 results Netherlands had over Zambia and China, it was just the modest six goals.
Canada also finished second in their group, although in a less-exciting fashion. A late goal from Mana Iwabuchi cancelled out Christine Sinclair’s early strike in Canada’s first match against Japan, while a brace from Janine Beckie was enough to beat Chile for their lone win of the group stage in their second match. Then, on Tuesday — as Maude Charron was winning gold for Canada in Women’s 64kg Weightlifting — Adriana Leon scored the opening goal but Great Britain scored a late equalizer to share another 1-1 draw and confirm Canada’s spot as Group E’s second-place finisher.
Canada have played Brazil twice already this year, once at the SheBelieves Cup in February and again in a friendly in June. First half goals from Debinha (who has scored twice at Tokyo 2020 thus far) and Julia Bianchi were the difference at the SheBelieves Cup as Brazil won 2-0, while the June friendly — played in Cartagena, Spain — was an uneventful 0-0 draw.
They met in the bronze medal game at the Rio 2016 Olympics, a match that ended with Canada beating the home team 2-1 to reach the podium for the second time in a row.
Two players in this match are approaching history, as Christine Sinclair and Marta (more on those two in a minute) are nearing the Olympic goals record currently held by Marta’s fellow Brazilian, Cristiane. Cristiane scored 14 goals over four Olympics (2004-2016), while Marta now sits on 13 after scoring three goals at Tokyo 2020 thus far, leapfrogging Sinclair, who scored her 12th Olympic goal against Japan on matchday one. There’s a very real possibility that one (or both) could equal or pass Cristiane on Friday.
After qualifying from Group E, Canada seem to be happy with their tournament thus far as a whole.
“To go undefeated in the group stage is nothing to scoff at,” said Canada head coach Bev Priestman in a press release. “Across the group stage we’ve had eight debuts at the Olympics. I felt today was a much better Canadian performance getting us ready now for some great tier one opponents.
“Everyone who stepped in did an unbelievable job, and the strength of this group will be the depth, they can step in whenever needed so no matter what happens moving forward, we’re all ready to go.”
Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, who injured herself in Canada’s group stage opener but recovered to play Canada’s third match, is also taking the positives from Canada’s solid start to Tokyo 2020.
“We are undefeated in three games and we’ve put ourselves in control of our own destiny,” said Labbé. “We know what our ultimate goal is, and we’re on our way to that.”
Whoever wins this match will face a much tougher test in the semifinal, as they’d play the winner of a 2019 Women’s World Cup rematch between the United States and Netherlands.
3 THINGS TO WATCH
- G.O.A.T vs G.O.A.T: Whenever Brazil and Canada square off, we’re lucky to have a chance to see two of the greatest footballers the sport has ever seen square off against each other. Christine Sinclair, scorer of the most goals in international soccer history (187 and counting), and Marta — a superstar in her own right and 6th on the all-time women’s international goals leaderboard with 112, only one back from moving into a tie for 5th. Both have been the faces of their countries for years, and such encounters are always must-watch for that reason. Marta is the only player to score in five different Olympics, while Sinclair has scored in four. Both are two-time Olympic medalists (Marta silver in 2004 and 2008, Sinclair bronze in 2012 and 2016), and close to breaking Cristiane’s aforementioned Olympic goals record. The duo have shown up in this Tokyo 2020 tournament — Marta has three goals already, including a pair against China in their tournament opener, while Sinclair has one — scored a few minutes into Canada’s first match against Japan. Sinclair didn’t play against Great Britain, taking it in from the stands as Bev Priestman opted to rest her, but if both are firing on all cylinders, this match could be a classic.
- Canada winless in four previous matches with Brazil: Canada has had a tough time against Brazil over the past few years, last beating them in a 2018 friendly match. Since that game, a 1-0 victory for Canada, Brazil has won two of the four matches, with the others ending in a draw. Two of those matches have been in 2021 — the aforementioned 2-0 Brazil win in February and 0-0 draw in June — as well as a 4-0 Brazil win in a 2019 friendly, and a 2-2 draw at the Tournoi de France in March 2020. Canada will need to be at their best to end that winless run, but if they’re going to challenge for the podium at Tokyo 2020, Brazil are a team they need to beat.
- Has Adriana Leon earned herself a spot in the starting lineup? After providing a spark off the bench in Canada’s opening match against Japan, and scoring the opening goal against Great Britain, Adriana Leon has been one of Canada’s liveliest attackers in this tournament. Against Great Britain, Leon was a difference-maker in attack, but there were also moments in her 90-minute shift where she’d contribute defensively — whether by dropping back a bit, or pressing the opposition and defending from the front. After three good performances, and a brace against Chile, it would be hard to justify dropping Janine Beckie, but Nichelle Prince has also shown flashes of brilliance on the other side of the pitch as well. Leon may be limited to substitute minutes as long as Prince and Beckie keep performing, but having someone like her off the bench — someone who seems to be fearless and willing to give 100% every time she takes the pitch — can only be a good thing.
Canada wins: 8 || Brazil wins: 9 || Draws: 7
Friendly: June 14, 2021 – Brazil 0-0 Canada