Canada’s opponents in the upcoming World Cup — Belgium, Croatia and Morocco — have all completed their final preparations. The next stop is Qatar when the Group F matches begin on Wednesday.
Canada wrapped things up with an impressive 2-1 win over 24th-ranked nation Japan on Thursday. Meanwhile, their opponents also competed in the final friendlies with different results.
Here’s what John Herdman’s team can learn from the results.
LOST 2-1 TO EGYPT
This match is likely to become one of the biggest shocks ahead of the World Cup as Belgium fall to Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations final on Friday.
Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku was unavailable as he continued to recover from injury and Belgium’s goalscoring problem lingered without anyone else strengthening. Substitute Lois Openda (Lens) scored the equalizer in the second half, but for a team that included Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard, it was a disappointing result.
So how can Canada exploit this? Despite maintaining most of the ball possession – as was expected – the second-placed team in the FIFA world rankings were caught off guard and sometimes careless with the ball.
If this scenario repeats itself, the likes of Atiba Hutchinson, Samuel Piette and Mark-Anthony Kaye will take this opportunity to pressurize, regain possession and move the ball towards Canada’s attack.
Meanwhile, Egypt remained sober and made the most of Belgium’s mistake. Low and hard shots beat Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on both occasions. Egypt has been lethal with their chances and Canada will need to repeat it next week.
As seen in Canada’s prep, Ismael Kone isn’t afraid to rush straight into goal at the slightest chance. At the same time, Cyle Larin and Jonathan David, often the team’s top scorers, will need to step up within 6 yards.
Also, the Belgians often leave acres of space behind, allowing counter-attacks to hurt them – something Alphonso Davies and Tajon Buchanan will make the most of.
Those are now consecutive losses for the Europeans going into the tournament.
Canada plays its opening match against Belgium on November 23. The match kicks off at 2pm EST/11am PST while pre-match news starts on CTV and TSN at 1:45pm EST/10:45 PST morning.
CROATIA TOO MUCH SAUDI ARABIA
After Canada meets Belgium, followed by their second European opponent, Croatia.
The 2018 World Cup finalists beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 on Wednesday, but this match saw preparations for the match against Qatar. However, the takeaways are remarkable.
Croatia were late to win when Hoffenheim attacker Andrej Kramaric scored in the 82nd minute to extend their winning streak and six unbeaten matches.
Substitute Luka Modric provided the assist for the late winner and showed once again how he can turn a game into a dime like he did for Real Madrid. Canada must disable the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner in midfield.
Once again, Hutchinson, Piette and Kaye could be tasked with defending, but with Modric’s influence, every midfielder on the pitch must be on guard. As a result, Stephen Eustaquio may be less willing to move freely.
Other notable names entering and changing the tempo of the game in the second half were Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, Dinamo Zagreb winger Mislav Orsic and Tottenham’s Ivan Perisic, who scored in the final. 2018. Keeping them on the bench shows they can be starters.
So, overall, what does this result say about Canada? The biggest is not to back down against Croatia until the final whistle blows. This match highlighted Croatia’s main trait: determination. In their last 6 matches, 5 were decided by goals coming around 70 minutes or later.
This meant that Canada’s starting keeper Milan Borjan and the two centre-backs in front of him had to make sure to stay focused in the final minutes to avoid fatigue affecting decisions. Limiting any late-game corners will also be key, but if they fail to do so, the heights of Hutchinson and Steven Vitoria will hopefully be crucial to denying any scoring opportunities.
Herdman’s high defense could also prove useful, as the world’s 12th-ranked side were caught offside four times in the game.
Canada vs Croatia on November 27. The match starts at 11am. EST/8am PST while pre-match news starts on CTV and TSN at 10:45am EST/7:45am PST.
MOROCCO WIN 3-0 BEFORE GEORGIA
Canada’s final clash with Morocco could be full of excitement. Depending on other results, Herdman’s team could have a chance of making it to the knockout stages of the competition.
The 22nd-placed nation played Georgia on Thursday when Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri scored after 5 minutes. Although it was only a friendly, their intentions were clear. clearly visible here.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi played a key role in defense and attack, setting up the opener, and winger Hakim Ziyech provided the assist. Both players displayed fearsome pace throughout the 90 minutes and as a result Morocco played extremely fluid football.
Canada must limit its influence and can count on the likes of Davies, Buchanan, Alistair Johnston, Sam Adekugbe and Richie Laryea to do so. All five players influenced Canada’s play on the flanks, both offensively and defensively, mirroring the same impact that Hakimi and Ziyech had. Fans can expect fast-paced one-on-one matches for the ball with the ability to man-in.
Ziyech, who was struggling to find Premier League form on Chelsea side, then scored a spectacular goal from inside his own half to make things 2-0, while Sofiane Boufal of Angers scored a penalty.
Montreal-born goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who plays for Sevilla, was also at his peak as opponents called him off several times but he kept a fourth consecutive clean sheet. It’s now up to David, Larin or perhaps Lucas Cavallini’s confidence to claim that record after a cheeky penalty later in the team’s win over Japan. Defeating Bounou from range could also make a difference with Eustaquio potentially taking on that role.
In general, Morocco is in a head-to-head position with Georgia and seems to want to take control rather than sit idly by, playing non-stop until the final whistle blows. In particular, Herdman’s defense must stay calm and focused to be able to overpower them in a pressurized environment.
Hutchinson’s experience and leadership alongside a Herdman with a voice on the frontier will be crucial. However, the task of keeping calm will have to come from everyone on the field. In the final match of the group stage, Canada is not allowed to slide if the knockout stages are close.
Canada vs Morocco on December 1. The match kicks off at 10am EST/7am PST while pre-match news starts on CTV and TSN at 9:45am EST/6:45am PST.