If we’re being honest, Canada is far from a favourite when it comes to this year’s FIFA World Cup. The team managed to qualify for the competition for the first time in 36 years, which is already a huge success on its own.
But is that all there is for Canada this year?
Group Phase Will be Difficult
Canada didn’t get lucky when it comes to the group phase. With Croatia and Belgium, the squads that won second and third place (respectively) in the previous World Cup, Canada will have a tough challenge. Even Morocco isn’t going to be an easy opponent, especially after Ziyech and Mazraoui’s return to the national squad.
On the surface, it may seem like Canada doesn’t stand a chance against its much stronger rivals.
But we have to keep in mind that Canada’s current team is very different from that of 1986.
Canada’s Young New Team
With the squad’s average age of just over 25 years, Canada is among the younger teams at this World Cup. But their youth isn’t the only thing working in their favour.
Several players have experience in the top European leagues and have snatched awards for their performances.
Their coach, John Herdman, has managed to improve the national squad’s FIFA ranking for over 30 positions in the span of a single year.
Together, they form a team stronger than you may expect.
Not the Same National Squads
When you look at the previous World Cups, Croatia and Belgium may seem like strong teams and clear favourites in Group F. But if you pay attention to their more recent results, you’ll quickly find out that these aren’t the same teams that competed years back.
From changes in the squad itself, to the changed performance of aging players, these national teams largely lost their touch.
Morocco may be the weakest link of them all.The team’s top players are back after a somewhat forced retirement, but the resentment and other negative feelings are still there.
But is that enough for Canada to stand a chance to qualify for the knockout phase? Take a look at this infographic from LegalBet Canada and judge for yourselves.