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Can Canada Continue Olympic Soccer Magic in Quarterfinal Against France?

The tournament has already been a success, but the Canadian players aren't looking to go home just yet.

Celso Junior/Getty Images

Canada really never should have beaten France for the Bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. France dominated them in that match, a fact it seems forever lost to time after Dianna Matheson's medal clinching goal. But there was something magical about that Canadian team, something that France just couldn't seem to undo.

If the Canadian team had indeed bottled up that magic from London, they chose to release in on Tuesday, when they defeated Germany 2-1. It was the first time in their history that Canada has beaten the current World number two, and has many believing that a medal is once again within reach.

A win today would be more important than just returning to the medal round, however. It would be definitive proof that as Canada's golden generation of women gets set to leave the national team, the torch they have passed is ending up in capable hands.

While veterans like Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi have turned back the clock with their performances in this tournament, a lot of the heavy lifting has been done by the team's young core. That's exactly what John Herdman would have been looking for in this transitional tournament for the program.

Up front, Janine Beckie is leading the Olympics in scoring with three goals, despite only playing in two matches. Kadiesha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn and Shelina Zadorsky have looked solid defensively. Jessie Fleming has become a fixture in the Canadian midfield. Steph Labbe is proving her doubters wrong in goal.

Canada has played France as recently as late July 23, when they lost 1-0 in their final friendly before Rio 2016. Canada has not beaten France since 2012 with a draw and two losses in that time.

However, a lot has changed in the few weeks between that friendly and now. Canada is coming into this game full of confidence, the only team that still has a perfect record after the group stage. The win against Germany proved to this team that they can beat anyone.

Especially with how they did it, playing without Sinclair, Buchanan and Beckie, arguably their three best players. All three of those players will be well rested today. That's good news because Canada will need the trio to be at their best if they want to beat a very good French team.

While it's been the team's defensive effort that has largely been key to their success at this tournament so far, Canada's offence has also come to life in this tournament. All three of Tancredi, Sinclair and Beckie have scored at least twice this tournament.

Many will already consider this a successful competition for the Canadian team, after all, most of the team will be in their prime at the next Olympic games. This was about them stepping up to the plate in their first Olympic games, and they have.

But today Canada has a chance to make this tournament every bit as big as the London Olympics were. If that was about putting the program on the map, today is about cementing that position. Whatever happens, however, this tournament has already continued the program's positive momentum.