5 keys to victory: Canadian women's soccer team looks to beat Germany (again)
Last week's breakthrough victory was 22 years in the making
By Nigel Reed, CBC Sports
It took Canada 22 years and 13 attempts to beat Germany in women's soccer. Now Canada has a chance to beat the European champions twice in a week. Watch the game live Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET on cbc.ca/olympics, the CBC Rio 2016 app and CBC TV (you can also catch it on the radio on TSN Radio).
Here are my five keys to success ahead of the semifinal rematch.
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1. Strong start
The first 20 minutes are absolutely crucial. They will set the tone for the entire game. Canada must start as it means to continue with confidence and disciplined organization. Germany will be aiming to dominate from the outset, and Canada has to match that mindset from the get-go. Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe and her defenders must not allow Germany to push them back into a defensive shell.
2. Midfield muscle
It doesn't have to be pretty — but it absolutely does have to be effective. The midfield battle will be a vital area both in terms of defence and offence. Canada must stifle Germany, make its tackles, and cut off the passing lanes.
Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt have a huge responsibility to protect the back four and frustrate the opposition. They also have to link quickly with Jessie Fleming, whose decision-making and accuracy of passing will be pivotal in transition.
3. Take chances
Goal-scoring opportunities for Canada will be few and far between. Germany is too experienced to allow the Canadians to carve open chance after chance. So when they do come along — and they will — Canada has to be clinical and composed.
Melissa Tancredi scored twice for Canada last week, so the Germans will be wary of her presence, along with the great Christine Sinclair and breakout star Janine Beckie.
4. Patience, please
The game won't be won or lost in the first half hour and Canada must understand the importance of patience. The Canadians' first priority is to build a competitive platform and show the Germans they mean business.
Patient possession may not be an attractive side of the game, but it's all part of a plan to frustrate and tire the opponent in a match that could include extra-time and a penalty shootout. Canada must pace itself.
5. Confidence is key
This trumps everything. Canada is on a roll at Rio 2016 and will go into the game brimming with confidence. The Canadians have won every game and scored eight goals in the process. The fact is they have already beaten Germany and absolutely must believe they can do so again.
The personnel will be different for both teams from last week but the fear factor has been removed. Germany is beatable and Canada knows it. Canada will not be intimidated and the pressure is now on Germany to avenge that loss.
The French were on a similar mission in the quarter-finals. They are in Paris; Canada remains in Brazil.