Women's World Cup: England and Canada compared ahead of quarter-final
By Dev Trehan
Last Updated: 27/06/15 11:06pm
England Women’s victory over Norway on Monday sets up a quarter-final tie with World Cup hosts Canada in Vancouver this weekend.
England have never reached the last four at the Women’s World Cup and ahead of Saturday’s game at the BC Place stadium we take a look at the tale of the tape between the two sides.
England are currently rated as the sixth best team in the FIFA World Rankings. Canada sit two places below them in eighth.
England have played Canada on seven occasions during the last five years, with England winning four and Canada coming out on top in three. England beat Canada 1-0 in March to win the Cyprus Cup for a record-equalling third time, but lost by the same scoreline in a pre-World Cup friendly in Hamilton at the end of last month.
There will be one English manager on the touchline when the two sides clash in Vancouver – Canada boss John Herdman. The 39-year-old Newcastle fan was born in County Durham and played semi-professionally before launching his managerial career in New Zealand after a brief spell as an academy coach with Sunderland. Herdman guided the Silver Ferns to the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cups before leaving to take charge of Canada, with whom he won Olympic bronze at London 2012.
Welshman Mark Sampson succeeded Hope Powell at the end of 2013 to become only the second permanent head coach of the England Women’s football team. He is seven years Herdman’s junior and is currently in his first international managerial role. Like Herdman, Sampson spent the early part of his coaching career in youth football, working at Swansea’s Centre of Excellence under the tutelage of current Everton boss Roberto Martinez. He spent four years as manager of Women’s Super League side Bristol Academy, taking the club to two FA Women’s Cup finals and guiding them to the Champions League for the first time in their history.
England and Manchester City Women’s captain Steph Houghton showed why she’s the leader of the pack on Monday, when she powered home a headed equaliser against Norway to help England into the last eight. Her build-up to the tournament was interrupted by a knee injury but the 27-year-old - Team GB’s top scorer at the London 2012 Olympics - has grown as the tournament has progressed and is the mainstay of England’s defence.
Houghton faces arguably her biggest test of this Women’s World Cup so far when she is tasked with shackling the threat posed by Canada skipper Christine Sinclair. The powerfully-built striker is the third-highest international goalscorer of all time with 153 goals in 221 starts. The 12-time Canadian Player of the Year has yet to hit top form in this tournament but will be Canada’s chief attacking threat on Saturday.
Desiree Scott has been hugely influential at the back for Canada, with the host nation conceding just one goal over the course of their four matches in this tournament. The 27-year-old plies her trade in FA Women’s Super League 1 for Notts County Ladies and will be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of England’s striking options.
But Canada have yet to be tested by a quality forward line, and England head coach Sampson has a wealth of striking talent in his squad. Sampson has used all 21 of his outfield players in this tournament but is likely to restore prolific Chelsea Ladies forward Eni Aluko to the starting line-up for the game against Canada.
Aluko has yet to score at Canada 2015 but has returned 19 goals in her last 30 international matches, including 13 during World Cup qualifying. The Lagos-born 28–year-old, whose brother Sone plays for Hull, could be partnered in attack by Lianne Sanderson if Sampson continues to rotate his squad. Sanderson has made just one substitute appearance so far but scored the winner against Canada when England beat Saturday’s opponents in the 2015 Cyprus Cup final.
This will be the most hostile atmosphere some of England’s players will have played in, with a sell-out 50,000 expected at BC Place. But the likes of Fara Williams, Alex Scott and Karen Carney are no strangers to playing in front of a large partisan crowd and can also draw on the experience of representing Team GB and England at Wembley Stadium.
Canada played in front of 53,000 fans – a record for any sports event in that country – in their World Cup opener against China in Edmonton and will hope the support in Vancouver can help get them over the line this weekend.