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2021 SheBelieves Cup Matchday 2 preview

2021 SheBelieves Cup Matchday 2 preview: USWNT vs. Brazil, Argentina vs. Canada

February 21, 2021 By Juan Aguerrevere
Day two of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup will go down on Sunday, featuring the USA taking on Brazil at 3 p.m. ET and Argentina going toe-to-toe with Canada at 6 p.m. ET.

Sunday’s SheBelieves Cup first clash between the USWNT and Marta’s Brazil and will be broadcasted on FOX Sports 1 and TUDN (Spanish-language) in the U.S., and Globo (SporTV) in Brazil. The game between the Albiceleste and the Maple Leafs will be screened by FOX Sports 2 on live television and streamed on TUDN App, in the U.S.

USWNT vs. Brazil – Sunday, 3 p.m. ET

Brazil enters matchday two of the four-team international competition as leaders by goal differential after defeating Conmebol rivals Argentina 4-1 on opening day.

The Verde-Amarella carried out a strong performance on both sides of the pitch. On its defensive end, Brazil remained organized and far from committing any obvious mistakes that could lead to defensive complications. Attackers in Marta, Debinha and company were direct when attacking space in their opponent’s last third, managing to get in behind Argentina’s backline with runs and threaded balls to inspire all four goals.

Thursday’s game was a sneak peek at what manager Pia Sundhage has been working on during camp with the Selecao. It seems like Sundhage has developed a system, resembling Sweden's defensive order and the USA's explosiveness in the attack. Add Jogo Bonito to the mix and Brazil is able to showcase an innovative, yet successful style of play. The low-risk defending and high-risk attacking approach could just be what the Brazilians need to frustrate and break through an experimented U.S. Women’s national team on Sunday afternoon.

On the other hand, the USA secured its 24th win in a row with a 1-0 win over Canada on Thursday night. Midfielder Rose Lavelle was the protagonist in the tight victory, scoring a 79th-minute goal off the bench. However, the USWNT is held to a standard that was not quite met on Thursday despite statistically dominating its Concacaf counterparts. 

It was a tough day in the office for the Americans in front of goal. A goal after 28 attempts at goal is not what coach Vlatko Andonovski expects from his side. Credit is due to Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe and a great defensive effort by Canada. However, players like Carli Lloyd, who had two crystal clear headed chances, know that the game could have been put to sleep after the first 45 minutes. Defensive errors that almost led to conceding goals were another thing that Andonovski probably brought up in the post-game huddle. The first was a long through ball that caught center-backs Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn by surprise, and the second was fullback Crystal Dunn’s pass to goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, which turned into a perfect threaded ball for Canada’s Nichelle Prince.

The world champions will need to make their chances count and stay grounded in the back to deal with a feisty Brazilian team.

Argentina vs. Canada – Sunday, at 6 p.m. ET

Argentina and Canada will be looking for their first-ever SheBelieves Cup win when they meet at Exploria Stadium on Sunday evening. The two tournament debutants had good showings in their first game and a win on Matchday 2 would give them hope to claim the title.

A depleted Canada side managed by Bev Priestman was very close to upsetting the reigning SheBelieves Cup champions, the USA, on Thursday. Canada, who are missing some of their biggest stars due to injury and club commitments, had a chance to run away with at least a draw against the USWNT if it had been less hesitant in front of goal. Everything else – defending and game tempo – felt just right and it was almost enough to put an end to the USA’s win streak.

Forward Nichelle Prince filled in for Christine Sinclair, who did not travel with the team due to an injury. Prince was energetic and opportunistic during the 71 minutes she spent on the pitch. The only thing the 26-year-old lacked was decision-making in front of goal, failing to make the best of two one-on-one chances. 

Midfielder Quinn was the cream that held the Oreo cookie together until they was replaced by Sophie Schmidt, who made her 200th international appearance for Canada. Quinn dictated the game in the middle of the park when in possession of the ball and led the team on defensive transitions. 

Finally, defender Vanessa Gilles was Canada’s boulder in the backline. The 24-year-old center-back was first in many aerial duels, fifty-fifty balls, and tackles, making life for American forwards difficult enough to keep them from scoring. 

The Canadians should win on Sunday if they play as they did on opening day. 

Argentina might have lost 4-1, but their performance did not resemble that of the 31st ranked nation on the planet. The Albiceleste showcased fight and will in their game against Brazil. The only thing that let them down was holes in the defense that could be fixed with a few tactical adjustments.

The main positive was forward Yamila Rodriguez’s leadership in the attack. The 23-year-old was listed as a left-winger in head coach Carlos Borrelo’s 4-3-3 lineup. However, she played more of a free-roaming role in the attack. The crafty forward dropped into the midfield to help her team transition to attack and sometimes assumed a more central No. 10 role to help her team break through the opposition’s defense with her dribbling and passing ability. 

Kansas City’s Mariana Larroquette came off the bench to score Argentina’s lone goal. Quick, direct, deadly and passionate are words that describe the 28-year-old forward when she is on the pitch.

The key for Argentina will be to be as aggressive as they were in their first game and create as many chances as they can in front of the goal. If the Argentinians can do so, they might put Canada with their backs against the wall. 

How to watch USWNT vs. Brazil and Argentina vs. Canada on Sunday, Feb. 21


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