Three years ago when Canada defeated France at the 2012 Olympic games in London they were awarded a bronze medal. No medals will be on the line when the two meet again today, but with Canada 2015 just around the corner the intensity and importance of this match cannot be understated. The game will provide a measuring stick for Canada, and a chance for France to seek long awaited revenge.
Since that fourth place finish in 2012, France have developed into one of the best side's in the women's game. Considering their current form, Canadian coach John Herdman would argue nobody is better right now. In the past two years they have defeated all of the top seven teams in women's soccer: Germany, the United States, Japan, Sweden, France and Brazil. All of these victories have them ranked third in the world.
The team they haven't be able to beat yet, however, is the world number eight: Canada.
"We've been a bogey team for France," explained Herdman. "there is something about Canada's spirit, something about the way we organize against them and something about the way our girls get up for [games against France]."
They have only met once since Canada upset France to take home the Bronze medal, and it came in a 2013 1-1 draw that saw Kaylyn Kyle score a late equalizer. The Canadians will be looking for a similar result today to increase their confidence ahead of hosting this summer's World Cup.
Like France, the Canadian team has also been testing their abilities against the best in the world these past couple of years. The results, however, have been less favourable: losing to England twice, the United States, Germany and Japan twice. Their only top eight victory came against Sweden last year.
A lot of those games, however, came with experimental rosters and tactics. Today's game against France is one Canada believes to be a more accurate measuring stick.
"We've put a lot of work in this year as a group," said Herdman, who thinks the team has been progressing well. "But this is one of those real tests, it's a true test."
Herdman expects France to play their best team for this match, as they try to get the Canadian monkey off their back. This makes the challenge even more daunting for his squad, as France has proven to have one of the most deep and talented rosters in the world.
"They've got four or five Sinclair's across the frontline in terms of the stats of these players," said Herdman who later explained the contrast between France in 2012 and now: "this is a stronger France. It's a younger France. It's a vibrant France and it's a team that's beaten every team in that top five."
The match will be played today at 3 p.m. Eastern at Stade Robert-Bobin Evry located in Bondoufle, France.