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Women's World Cup: Can Canada go all the way?

Having been one of the top 10 sides in women’s soccer for well over a decade, Canada head into this summer’s World Cup as outsiders to win the competition.

The Canadians went into the tournament just a shade off the very best sides in the world, ranked seventh overall to put them at the top of the second pot of teams going into the group-stage draw.

Canada may have avoided the big hitters but still landed in a group many consider to be tough, so their hopes for the summer are up in the air. 

Let’s take a look at Canada’s recent history and their prospects for the 2023 Women's World Cup.

What Women's World Cup 2023 
Where Australia and New Zealand 
When Thursday, July 20th - Sunday, August 20th, 2023
How to watch CBC, TSN, Sportsnet, DAZN
OddsUSA Women +250, England Women +450, Spain Women +600, Germany Women +700, France Women +1000

Can Canada build on Olympic gold?

Canada are still waiting to match their 2003 run to the World Cup semi-finals when they finished fourth in the USA. That was the only time in the first six editions that they made it beyond the group stage, but they’ve taken a step forward across the last decade.

As hosts in 2015, Canada were quarter-finalists and they were narrowly edged out by Sweden in the last 16 four years ago. 

That’s not going to mark them out as contenders to go all the way this time around, but a golden couple of years has raised expectations for this side.

Canada’s women won gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games when they were held in 2021. They beat the USA in the semi-finals and then claimed revenge on Sweden in the gold medal game. 

That was followed by a run to the final of the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s championship, where they lost narrowly to the USA in the final game. 

Those two runs suggest this Canadian side can threaten in Australia and New Zealand. 

Canadian talent puts them in the mix

Canada have a squad of players who ply their trade across some of the biggest leagues and teams in the world. 

They boast plenty of players from the US and the Women’s Super League in England, with striker Cloe Lacasse departing Benfica for Arsenal in June.

Lacasse is one of many attacking options for Canada, who have included 40-year-old Portland Thorns forward Christine Sinclair in their squad for the 2023 tournament. With an incredible 190 international goals across her 323 caps, it’s fair to say that she’s proven at this level.

There’s an up-and-coming supporting cast for Canada, which includes 22-year-old Jayde Riviere, who joined Manchester United earlier this year. 

The midfield is held together by Chelsea’s Jessie Fleming, who has amassed 115 caps by the age of just 25.

However, Canada’s summer hopes have been dented by injury. 

Tottenham defender Shelina Zadorsky and Portland forward Janine Beckie have both been ruled out through injury, which could hamper them as the tournament progresses. 

Canada’s route to the final

Canada ran the risk of meeting one of the top six sides in the world as early as the group stages, but they ended up being paired with co-hosts Australia. 

While they can be happy about avoiding the top sides, their group isn’t exactly plain sailing.

Australia will be buoyed by home support and they’re the stronger of the two hosts, given they are ranked 10th in the FIFA rankings. 

While Canada are -350 favorites in their opener with Nigeria, they’re meeting the strongest African contender who were the toughest of the pot four sides.

Meeting the Republic of Ireland also won’t be easy, they’re a decent pot three side that is ranked 22nd in the world, having come through a tricky European qualifying campaign before causing the USA problems in a double-header in April.

Canada are +200 to win Group B so they’re expected to make the second round, albeit in second place. That puts them on an incredibly tough path to the final.

They would likely need to eliminate three European heavyweights just to make it to the final. 

European Champions England are expected to be waiting in the last 16, likely followed by Germany and France.

Even if they can edge out Australia in Melbourne on July 31 and win Group B, the Canadians likely still end up meeting France in the quarters and then England in the semis. 

For all their progress in recent years, it feels like Canada will fall short in the early knockout rounds once again.

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