Canada will face co-hosts Australia on Monday in their final group-stage match of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. A win for either team guarantees them a spot in the round of 16. Canada sits second to Nigeria in the group, level on four points and with a +1 goal differential, but having scored one less goal the tiebreaker goes to the African nation. Australia are third with three points, thanks to their win over Ireland, but their shock loss to Nigeria has thrown everything into question for them. Following their victory over Ireland, all the CanWNT need is a draw to progress. One player sure to continue her presence in the starting 11 for Canada is midfielder Jessie Fleming.
The CanWNT Predicted Lineup Against Australia
— CANWNT (@CANWNT) July 26, 2023
How CanWNT Lined Up Against Ireland On Wednesday
— CANWNT (@CANWNT) July 26, 2023
In both of their games so far this tournament the CanWNT has used a 4-2-3-1 formation. The formation is rather flexible and allows itself to fold into a 4-4-2 for more defence or a 4-3-3 for more offence. The starting squad against Ireland had Kailen Sheridan as the goalkeeper with a back four from left to right of Ashley Lawrence, Vanessa Giles, Kadeisha Buchanan, and Jayde Riviere. The back two midfielders were Julia Grosso on the left and Quinn on the right. On the front midfield line, from left to right, it was Jordyn Huitema, Jessie Fleming, and Adriana Leon. Playing in the sole striker role was Evelyn Viens.
READ MORE: The CanWNT World Cup Expectations in 2023
There is no reason to believe that Canada will not use the 4-2-3-1 for their final group-stage game. Australia deployed the standard 4-4-2 formation in both of their games, so each team is likely to stick to their guns in this matchup. Struggles with creating goal-scoring opportunities have arisen with the constant use of a one-striker formation, but the benefit is that Canada has only allowed one goal so far this tournament, and it was a very special goal at that.
Canadian Injuries To Be Considered
With the return of Fleming to the starting 11, all Canadian players who have had fitness concerns have taken the pitch this tournament. The CanWNT had some injury issues with Nichelle Prince and Deanne Rose, but both of them played in the game against Nigeria. It might not be a 100% fit group of players, but the Canadian dressing room should hold no worries about fielding their best team.
CanWNT Predicted Starting Lineup
Using the expected 4-2-3-1 lineup, the defence of Canada, which has stayed the same in both games, will look like this. Sheridan remains in between the sticks, with Lawrence, Giles, Buchanan, and Riviere going from left to right. Back-two midfielders Grosso and Quinn also started both games and should start the next one as well. The shuffle in the starting rotation comes upfront. Captain Christine Sinclair started against Nigeria but not against Ireland. Her fitness is not in question and she could have been given a slight reprise to save her for their critical 3rd group-stage game. Sinclair was Viens’ substitute at halftime, but the national team legend will likely be tapped to start this game.
The front three midfielders that will play a supporting role to Sinclair could also see changes. Rose played on the right against Nigeria, but Leon took that spot against Ireland and scored the winning goal. CanWNT coach Beverly (Bev) Priestman will want to save some kicks for the second half, so Rose returns to the starting squad as the right-forward midfielder, who should expect to see herself substituted at halftime for Leon if her side is losing. Jessie Fleming maintains her role as center-midfield patroller. On the left, a role taken by Leon in the first game and Huitema in the second; Huitema keeps this position as the forward has played every minute of the tournament.
Predicted Starting 11: Kailen Sheridan, Ashley Lawrence, Vanessa Gilles, Kadeisha Buchanan, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Quinn, Jordyn Huitema, Jessie Fleming, Deanne Rose, Christine Sinclair
Current Odds: Canada vs Australia
Current odds have Australia winning this game at 43 percent favourites. Canada has a 29 percent odds to win and there is a 28 percent chance for a draw. While not favoured to win the game, the chances of a draw or upset victory outweigh those of a defeat. Needing only a draw to advance, but playing in the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Matilda’s home soil, the chances of advancing seem 50-50 for Canada. Their talented squad has what it takes to advance, but even a simple mistake could upend the home game. Whoever scores first should be able to utilize their advantage and hold onto whatever result they need to advance to the round of 16.
Photo Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports, of a Julia Grosso Headshot, on February 22, 2023.