For Canada and Brazil, their wild and emotional rides through the Olympic women’s soccer tournament will come to a close on Friday.
The two teams meet in the bronze-medal match, with Canada looking to defend its podium place from London 2012 and Brazil aiming for a third all-time medal in the event (after winning silver at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008). The match takes place at 12 p.m. ET from Sao Paolo.
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Canada had a phenomenal start to the competition in Rio, with Janine Beckie scoring the fastest-ever goal in Olympic history, just 20 seconds into the opening game against Australia. Despite playing shorthanded for most of the game, Canada held on for an important 2-0 win.
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That was followed by an expected 3-1 win over Zimbabwe and a rather unexpected 2-1 win over Germany. With both teams resting some players, Canada earned its first-ever victory over the mighty Germans, after losing all 12 previous meetings. That gave Canada first place in Group F, the first time Canada has won its Olympic group.
In the quarterfinals, Canada faced France, whom they’d beaten in the bronze-medal match at London 2012. And just like four years ago, Canada withstood the attacks from the technically gifted French team and earned a 1-0 victory.
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The semifinals saw Canada in a rematch against the No. 2-ranked team in the world, Germany. The Canadians put up a good fight, but couldn’t do enough to defeat the European powerhouses for the second time in a week, falling 2-0.
As for the host Brazilians, they also began the Olympic competition with plenty of momentum, defeating China 3-0 and rolling over Sweden by a score of 5-1. The team encountered a bit of a hiccup in their final group-stage game, posting a 0-0 draw with South Africa, but still did enough to win Group E.
In a dramatic quarterfinal showdown, Brazil thrilled the home crowd by squeaking past Australia in a penalty shootout. That set up a semifinal rematch against Sweden, in front of an even bigger crowd (over 70,000 fans) at the Maracana Stadium.
This time, though, Sweden was ready. The team’s solid defensive play helped them earn an upset win over the top-ranked United States in the quarterfinals, and against Brazil in the semifinals, their defence once again held firm. Brazil again found themselves in a penalty shootout, but this time, they fell short.
Both Canada and Brazil now look to end their Olympic tournaments on a high note, in what should be an exciting, back-and-forth game. The Brazilians will again benefit from home-field advantage, but Canada (who have two wins and one loss against Brazil so far in 2016) knows they have the skill and experience to get on the podium.