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Canada shows off tactical flexibility in win over Brazil

Canada shows off tactical flexibility in win over Brazil John Molinaro | @JohnMolinaro ...

Canada shows off tactical flexibility in win over Brazil

John Molinaro | @JohnMolinaro September 2, 2018, 5:05 PM John Molinaro @JohnMolinaro September 2, 2018, 5:05 PM

• Brazil 0, Canada 1 (Prince 49’)
• Reds win international friendly via Nichelle Prince’s goal
• Stephanie Labbé earned her 22nd clean sheet for Canada

The Canadian women’s team continued its preparation for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament on Sunday by renewing its rivalry against one of its toughest opponents.

Brazil visited Ottawa, and though it was without the injured Marta, a five-time FIFA wold player of the year winner, the South American side brought their “A” game in this showdown against Canada and Christine Sinclair.

Canada earned a 1-0 win on the strength of Nichelle Prince’s seventh career international goal and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé’s 22nd clean sheet before 16, 128 fans at Ottawa’s TD Place Stadium

Here are my three thoughts on the game…

TACTICAL FLEXIBILIY

This was Canada’s first match since suffering a 3-2 loss to Germany at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field back in June. In that contest, Canadian coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller deployed an attacking 3-5-2 formation, instead of using four defenders at the back. Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt led Canada’s attack on the day, with youngster Jessie Fleming filling in as a playmaker in the hole just behind the two veteran forwards.

The Canadian coach at the time said he experimented with the 3-5-2 formation because he wanted his team to be more fluid in its playing style, and to be able to make changes on the fly and as the situation dictates it.

In that same spirit of tactical flexibility, Heiner-Møller changed things up again in Ottawa. With Fleming out due to injury, he had Canada set up in a 4-3-3 formation, but changed between a diamond-shaped 4-4-2 and high block 4-4-2 when defending.

The Canadians made life very difficult for the Brazilians when they had the ball, forcing the South Americans out wide when set up in the diamond-shaped midfield. Other times, Canada used a high press to force turnovers, or played with two lines of four across the middle, challenging the Brazilians to play through them.

It worked. Centre back Kadeisha Buchanan quarterbacked a defence that gave very little away, Desiree Scott was a midfield destroyer, and full-backs Allysha Chapman and Ashley Lawrence put in solid defensive shifts, while routinely bombing forward down the flanks in lending support to the attack.

NO GOALS FOR SINCLAIR, BUT…

Sinclair appeared in her 269th game for Canada on Sunday, but failed to find the back of the net. As such, the iconic Canadian captain remained stuck on 173 international goals in the women’s game â€" 11 shy of the all-time record held by former U.S. great Abby Wambach.

Even at age 35, Sinclair doesn’t appear to be slowing down. The veteran forward played the full 90 minutes, and though she didn’t score, she did involve herself in the attack, linking up effectively with Janine Beckie.

Even more impressive was the work she put in off the ball. The Canadian veteran tirelessly ran herself ragged for the cause, especially when Brazil was in possession, acting as the first line of defence as the South Americans tried to carry the ball from out of the back.

A GREAT RIVALRY CONTINUES

Canada vs. Brazil has become one of the best rivalries in women’s soccer. Of course, everybody remembers their previous meeting, and how the Reds trumped the Brazilians on home soil at the 2016 Rio Olympics to win the bronze medal. But they’ve also played some entertaining friendlies, including the last time they met in Ottawa â€" two years ago prior to the Olympics when Beckie scored with the last kick of the game in injury time to lift Canada to a dramatic 1-0 win.

With this latest victory, Canada now leads the all-time series against Brazil, with eight wins and seven draws in the 21 times they’ve faced each other dating back to the first occasion they met in 1996.

Far from chippy, Sunday’s match was a hard-fought between the two sides, featuring plenty of tough tackles and physical play. Players on both sides didn’t hold back or give an inch â€" Buchanan fell down hard to the ground in the 60th minute after Brazil’s Beatriz didn’t pull out of a challenge and collided with the Canadian defender. A meaningless friendly? You’d never have known by the intensity of Sunday’s affair in the nation’s capital.

“It’s become a bit of a rivalry between us. Brazil is always an opponent we get excited to play. You always know you’re going to get a quality performance from them… It’s never a blowout, the games are always close,” Janine Beckie told Sportsnet in the buildup to Sunday’s match.

Indeed, there’s something that brings out the best in these two nations whenever they meet and whatever the setting might be. Maybe it’s because they’re both top-quality sides â€" Canada is currently ranked No. 5 in the world, two spots above Brazil â€" who have never won the World Cup, and who both are trying desperately to break through the glass ceiling and become members of the elite class in the women’s game.

Source: Google News Canada | Netizen 24 Canada

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