Technically, four years ago, the Canadian women’s national team were this close to a gold medal. Just two wins away from the biggest accomplishment in Canadian soccer history, it wouldn’t be close really.
They were oh so close to beating the United States in the Olympic semi-finals and setting up a finale against Japan. To this day it feels like a result that was cheated out of their hands.
Perhaps the soccer gods have come to repay their debts, because in Rio it feels like Canada has been handed a golden opportunity. Their path to Olympic glory is starting to clear, and the team’s belief that this could be their year continues to propel them forward.
Today, that path reaches a difficult slope: the German national team. Entering Rio Germany was one of the few national teams who Canada had never beat. They were the reigning European Champions, and have two Women’s World Cup Championships under their belt.
But they are a whole lot less intimidating now than they once were. Canada broke their 16 game winless streak against the Germans with a huge 2-1 victory during the group stage of this tournament. It means not only do they believe they can beat Germany, but they know they can. It’s an important difference.
Germany hasn’t looked particularly good this tournament, either. After thumping Zimbabwe to start the tournament they came close to losing to Australia before letting Canada come from behind to beat them. They then needed a late goal to beat China in the quarterfinals.
Today, one of Canada or Germany will reach the Olympic final for the first time in their history. This is surprising, especially on Germany’s part considering their dominance in the women’s game. They have won three Olympic Bronze medals prior to failing to qualify for the London Olympics.
When today’s winner gets to their first final, they meet one of Sweden or Brazil. It’s not an easy match by any means, but it’s not to task it could have been. For the first time ever, the United States will not be in the Olympic final. Japan, the silver medallists in Rio four years ago, didn’t even qualify. Fourth place France is out as well.
In that regard, this tournament has been downright unpredictable ever since it kicked off. So far, the Canadian women’s national team has been at the centre of that chaos, and today have a chance to continue that trend in a big way.
Canada is the lowest ranked team remaining in this tournament, in many ways making them the underdog to finish at the top of the podium. However, with so many Goliaths already receiving their rock, it might be David’s year to win Olympic gold.
Germany, however, is unlikely to be quite as rusty as they looked in their final group game. After all, today is do or die. Canada will need a much better performance in order to beat them, in fact, it will probably have to be their best of the tournament.
Beating Germany a second time won’t be easy, but it isn’t out of the question.