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2021 SheBelieves Cup Matchday 3 preview

2021 SheBelieves Cup Matchday 3 preview: Canada vs. Brazil, USWNT vs. Argentina

February 23, 2021 By Juan Aguerrevere
Wednesday will be the day of reckoning for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup when Canada takes on Brazil at 4 p.m. ET the USWNT hosts Argentina at 7 p.m. ET. Both games will be available on FOX Sports 1 in the United States and locally in other nations.

The last two games will mark the end of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup and decide which of the three remaining nations that still have a chance to win – Brazil, Canada, USA – claims the sixth title in competition history.

Brazil and Canada will be the firsts to step on the pitch at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla., home to the Orlando Pride and Orlando City SC. Both sides will aim to win and hope that the USWNT loses to Argentina to finish in first. 

Brazil – led by Marta and Debinha, who feel at home 

Brazil looks to avenge their fourth-place finish at the SheBelieves Cup in 2019. A win by a difference of two goals or more over Canada would give the Brazilians a slim chance of winning the tournament, as they would need Argentina to beat the USA.

The Verde-Amarella proved their strength with a 4-1 victory inspired by attacking midfielders Debinha and Marta against Conmebol rivals Argentina in Matchday 1. Marta, who signed a contract extension with the Orlando Pride days before the tournament, and Debinha, who has five goals and two assists after four games when playing at Exploria Stadium with the North Carolina Courage, have found it easy to lead Brazil so far in the tournament. The two ran the show against Argentina, punishing them by attacking the spaces they left open. However, Pia Sundhage’s Brazil came short against the USA on Sunday afternoon, losing 2-0 in what ended up being a tight game.

Brazil produced the chances needed to draw the game, but an early Christen Press goal and an 88th minute Megan Rapinoe goal defined the game as a 2-0 USWNT win. The Brazilians will look to get in behind the defense with through balls and well-structured one-two passes into space. They were successful against Argentina and gave the USA a hard time in defense at times. However, Canada has shown to be competent in defense during the tournament.

Canada – young and building identity under Priestman

Canada would have to win by a three-goal differential and hope that the USA loses to Argentina. Defeating Brazil by one goal is an already difficult task but add two more goals and Argentina ending the USWNT’s 25-game-win-streak, and it just sounds impossible. Nonetheless, head coach Bev Priestman is not necessarily focused on the results.

Priestman, who was hired in October 2020, is making the best of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup to build an identity for the team and develop young prospects. With the Summer Olympics set to start in five months, the 34-year-old manager is in the process of identifying the players that best fit her project. At the same time, Canada is producing exciting prospects who are looking to crack into the senior team. Some of Canada’s finest players are missing, including forward Christine Sinclair and defender Kadeisha Buchanan, but Priestman has enjoyed the challenge of using the weapons available to her at this moment.

Eight-teen-year-old Jade Rose, 20-year-old Jayde Riviere, 20-year-old Samantha Susan Chang, 21-year-old Sarah Stratigakis, 22-year-old Gabrielle Carle and 24-year-old Evelyn Viens all made their debuts in the first two games of the SheBelieves Cup. Most notably, Stratigakis scored the game-winner against Argentina in added time on Sunday. Also, Rose and Carle helped the team to a clean sheet from the backline. Senior players like forwards Nichelle Prince, Deanne Rose and Janine Beckie, midfielders Jessie Flemming and Quinn, defenders Allysha Chapman and Shelina Sadorsky, and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, have served as the spinal cord of Canada in the tournament. The combination of the two – young & senior players – has resulted in a sound defense and crafty attack for Canada.

A draw between Canada and Brazil would mean that the USWNT would claim its fourth SheBelieves Cup title.

USA – more composed, more results 

The USWNT looked more composed on Sunday against Brazil than they did on Thursday against Canada. Despite creating fewer chances against Brazil, the Americans were more accurate in front of the goal. Also, there were no big errors committed by the defense that gave Brazil a chance to get back into the game. Manager Vlatko Andonovski corrected the team’s mistakes from opening day to keep his undefeated record since taking over the team with a 2-0 win over Brazil.

On matchday 1, the USA dominated Canada, but the Stars and Stripes did not capitalize in front of the goal until midfielder Rose Lavelle scored in the 79th minute as a sub. On defense, the USWNT almost paid the price for giving Canada two crystal-clear chances. To their luck, the Canadians did not make the best of their opportunities and the USA won the game 1-0.

A draw against Argentina would earn the U.S. Women’s national team their fourth SheBelives Cup win in six years.

Argentina – will go out with a fight 

Argentina will play for pride when they face the World Cup Champions on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. The two sides have met three times since 1998 and Argentina has fallen in all three by a total score of 22-1. However, Argentina has improved since its last meeting in 2014 after a successful 2019 Women’s World Cup performance in France. Argentina will look to get the best possible result against a star-studded USWNT side.

Forward Yamila Rodriguez has proven to be Argentina’s puppet master in the attack. The 23-year-old is an attacking playmaker who looks to feed players around and take on defenders. Her sleeves are packed with tricks, flicks and threaded passes that can throw off defensive lines. 

Center-backs Agustina Basualdo, 27, and Aldana Cometti, 24, are proven high-skilled defenders who can turn a forward’s life into a nightmare during games. Basualdo, who plays in Sociedade Esportiva in Argentina, and Cometti, 24, who starts in Primera Iberdrola side Levante, form a defensive partnership that still has many days ahead. The two defenders are hard to beat in 50-50 challenges and are quick in footraces against attackers.

How to watch Canada vs. Brazil and the USWNT vs. Argentina on Wednesday, Feb. 24


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