TORONTO — It’s about to get very real for Canada at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
The Reds easily brushed aside Cameroon and New Zealand, before dropping a 2-1 decision against the Netherlands in their group-stage finale. That loss meant Canada finished second in Group E, thus setting up a round-of-16 showdown with Sweden on Monday, June 24.
Not much separates these two teams. Canada and Sweden are evenly matched, and they have a fair bit of history against one another over the years, including a semifinal meeting at the 2003 Women’s World Cup.
Like Canada, Sweden breezed through the first two matches of the group stage. For its final group game against the top-ranked United States, Swedish coach Peter Gerhardsson rotated his squad and made seven line-up changes, presumably saving his best players for the round-of-16.
“We had some great quality games in the group stage and I think that now, coming out of this loss against Netherlands, we’ve got a bit of that fire,” Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott said. “It’s not that the tournament hadn’t started, but it’s real now. It’s do or die. We want to go out there and reckon that performance we gave and give it our all for this round of 16.”
The winner of this game meets Germany in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Rennes.
Here’s a closer look at the numbers between Canada and Sweden ahead of Monday’s match in Paris:
0 – Sweden has never won a knockout game at the Women’s World Cup that went beyond regular time. The Swedes lost on penalties to China in the 1995 quarterfinals and in extra time to Germany in the 2003 final. Canada has never gone to extra time at the World Cup.
1 — There’s one set of professional teammates slated to go head-to-head in Monday’s contest. Canadian fullback Ashley Lawrence and Swedish defender Hanna Glas both play for French club Paris Saint-Germain.
2 – The loss to the Netherlands was only Canada’s second in its last 17 games in all competitions, and it ended a 10-match unbeaten streak (7-0-3) that dated back to last October.
3 – Members on this Canadian team who play professionally for Swedish clubs: Goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo (Vittsjö), and defenders Jenna Hellstrom (KIF Örebro) and Shannon Woeller (Eskilstuna United).
5 – Canada is fifth in the current FIFA world rankings, four spots above Sweden.