Join us on this journey as we dish out the inside scoop on each squad's strengths, weaknesses, players to keep an eye on and what a pass mark might be for each nation.
Next up, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalists, Canada.
FIFA Women's World Cup appearances: 8 (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015, 2019)
Best performance in a World Cup: Fourth (2003)
Players to watch
Canada has some of the world’s best players in their line-up. Chelsea stars Kadeisha Buchanan and Jessie Fleming have been in the squad since 2015. Fleming is a creative player with a dangerous shot while Buchanan is a Champions League-winning central defender. The latter is currently injured and Canadian fans will be sweating on her fitness if they are to repeat the Gold Medal run of the Tokyo Olympics.
In attack, there is the chance for fans to watch a true legend of the game. With 190 goals in her career, Christine Sinclair has scored more international goals than any other footballer. She will be an ever-present threat and has shown no signs of slowing down after 323 games for her country.
Canada’s last four games have been losses which is concerning for the reigning Olympic Gold Medalists. They have been defeated by the USA, Brazil, Japan and France scoring just once in those four games and conceding nine times.
There is a pretty major caveat for these results. The Canadian team is in the midst of a very public dispute with their federation. The Canadian Soccer Association has been asked to provide equal and adequate training and medical facilities for the players. They have also been asked to address the discrepancy in pay between the men’s and women’s sides.
The players are not allowed to strike, and they reached an interim funding agreement in March. The players are proud competitors, but it does go some way to explaining the drop off in results since their convincing wins against Australia in 2022.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Strengths: Pace out wide and a solid defensive game plan won them the Olympic medal, and although they have lost Janine Becky to an ACL injury, they still have Julia Grosso who can do significant damage with either a cross or shot.
The dependence on the evergreen Sinclair was reduced during the Olympics and they managed to defeat Australia twice without a goal from the superstar. Adrian Leon’s ability to carry the ball and finish unlocked The Matildas' defence in a standout performance.
Weaknesses: They have few tactical weaknesses. The question remains as to how much the dispute with CSA has disrupted their preparation. This is a heavyweight, experienced team of international veterans and club stars from the world’s best leagues.
A semi-final or quarter-final will be the minimum that Bev Priestman is expecting.