Canada World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections
Pictured: Alphonso Davies.
- Canada returns to the World Cup for a second time.
- Can Alphonso Davies lead the squad to success?
- Read on for a full preview of the team, including a roster and schedule.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network's staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating.
Read on for a full breakdown of Canada ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.
Canada World Cup Preview
For the first time since 1986, the Canadian national team will appear at the FIFA World Cup.
Years of mediocrity has plagued this nation in the soccer sense, but Canada finally found a generation with enough talent to reach the world’s biggest tournament. Immediately, casual soccer fans will recognize two names on this roster — Alphonso Davies, who currently plays at left-back for Bayern Munich, and Jonathan David, a forward for Lille who previously enjoyed a spell at Belgian side Genk.
Those two make up the focal points of this Canadian side, which features in Group F alongside Belgium, Croatia and Morocco.
However, there is also a number of other players that, although not household names, make up the core strength of this roster. For example, goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau is the first-choice between the sticks for MLS powerhouse Los Angeles FC, while attacking midfielders Junior Hoilett and Tajon Buchanan provide support for David on offense.
|Chances To…||Action Projections||bet365 Odds|
|Win Group Stage||12.29%||+1200|
|Advance To Knockout Round||34.42%||+275|
|Win World Cup||0.25%||+20000|
|Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.|
In terms of their current form, Canada arrive at the World Cup in great form, albeit against comparatively weaker opposition. Dating back to the beginning of 2021, Canada are 18-5-4 (W-L-D) and reached the semifinals of the 2021 Gold Cup before falling to Mexico.
However, if you just look at matches against teams that reached Qatar, that paints a different picture of this nation. Across those 11 fixtures – nine competitive and two friendlies – Canada are 5-4-2 (W-L-D). Just against the United States and Mexico, Canada are 2-2-2 (W-L-D) over the past two calendar years.
If Canada hope to have success at the World Cup, they will have to improve upon their defensive record. Just in those past 11 fixtures against World Cup opposition, Canada have kept a clean sheet only four times. Eliminate the two friendlies from consideration and bettors will find the Canucks have kept a clean sheet in only a third of their last nine competitive fixtures.
At the same time, this offense – one that plays a high-pressing style – has done very well in that same sample. Over those last 11 fixtures against World Cup-opposition, Canada have failed to score in only three fixtures, including scoring in seven of nine competitive fixtures.
That offensive record should come in handy, especially considering Canada will play in a group that features strong defenses from Belgium and Croatia. However, if Canada have hopes of upsetting one of those teams’s knockout round hopes and advancing beyond the group, they will either have to shut down a potent attack or their offense outpace an inferior defense.
Key Player: Alphonso Davies
In a squad that features mostly mid-tier global talents, Davies stands alone as the class of the roster.
Across his past three seasons with Bayern Munich, Davies has generated more than 0.25 combined xGs + xAssists in two campaigns. Through his first 10 fixtures with the German giants this season, Davies has created 0.22 xGs and assists, with his xA number only 0.04 behind last season’s total.
Further, if you compare Davies against other top full-backs, he ranks in the 95th percentile in shot-creating actions and the 99th percentile in dribbles, attacking penalty area touches and progressive passes. Davies is also in the 83rd percentile globally in xAssisted goals and in the 89th percentile in non-penalty xGs + xA.
All of this is to say that, without a strong World Cup from Davies, Canada will have little chance of surprising one of Belgium or Croatia in the hopes of reaching the knockout round. Plus, this is a Canada side that is extremely lacking in high-pressure fixtures, except for Davies.
Without that valuable experience that other nations in the group possess, a sub-par performance from Davies could spell a disastrous World Cup campaign for Canada. At the same time, Davies is among the most talented individuals in the group and could carry this squad into the knockout stage.
For Canada head coach John Herdman, a 3-5-2 is the preferred formation for the base style of play.
But, when playing with the ball, Canada transform their formation into a 3-4-2-1 or a 3-4-1-2, depending on the opposition. In that formation, the three central defenders form a high line while the remaining seven advance into forward positions to try and create chances. One element worth noting with this formation is that Davies, who traditionally plays as a left-back, plays as a hybrid winger/wing back depending on whether Canada have the ball or not.
In this situation, Davies either serves as an attacking midfielder in the triangle of attackers or as a true No. 10 behind the strike partnership.
Should Canada lose the ball in their own half, the front-seven for Canada adjusts into a high-pressing style of soccer that attempts to force mistakes out of its opponent. However, once the opposition crosses the threshold into Canada’s own half, Herdman’s formation once again adjusts.
Without the ball, Canada play in a 5-3-2 where Davies and the fellow winger drop back to create a back-five.
Teams that have success against this style will have good linkages between the defense and midfield with quick attackers who can get in behind before Canada’s formation transition.
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Canada World Cup Schedule
|Belgium||2 p.m. ET, Nov. 23|
|Croatia||11 a.m. ET, Nov. 27|
|Morocco||10 a.m. ET, Dec. 1|
Most Recent World Cup Result
Fourth Place, Group Stage (1986)
Canada have only qualified on one occasion for this stage of the World Cup, and the 1986 trip wasn't a fruitful endeavor. They lost all three group stage games and haven't made it back since. Canada will be looking for a better result this time around.