Thursday, February 18, 2010

Canada-Argentina: How badly will we lose?

Whenever Canada books a high profile opponent in soccer, the first reaction is excitement. If you're like me, though, the second reaction is often fear. Not quite mortal fear, but rather fear of embarrassment.

You see, the average Canadian sports fan, upon hearing that Canada will be playing Argentina, will immediately (and gleefully) reply: "Wow, we're going to get our asses kicked!" And there is undoubtedly a possibility that this will happen.

You may want to argue with your uninformed friend, but if you choose to do so, you might as well prepare yourself with some facts. That's why I've done you the favour of presenting a list of Canada's all-time encounters with FIFA top 10 teams since the world rankings were first published in 1993. These aren't necessarily teams ranked in the top 10 currently, but in the top 10 at the time of the match.

Date Location Opponent (Rk) Opp Can CAN Rnk Result Type
05/06/94 Edmonton Brazil (1) 1 1 58 Draw Friendly
08/06/94 Toronto Germany (2) 2 0 58 Loss Friendly
10/06/94 Montreal Spain (9) 2 0 58 Loss Friendly
12/01/96 Los Angeles Brazil (1) 4 1 65 Loss Gold Cup
20/02/00 San Diego Mexico (10) 1 2 85 Win Gold Cup
02/06/01 Ibaraki, Japan Brazil (2) 0 0 71 Draw Confederations Cup
18/01/03 Ft. Lauderdale USA (10) 4 0 70 Loss Friendly
01/06/03 Wolfsburg Germany (4) 4 1 77 Loss Friendly
26/03/05 Barcelos Portugal (9) 4 1 84 Loss Friendly
09/07/05 Seattle USA (10) 2 0 85 Loss Gold Cup
03/09/05 Santander Spain (8) 2 1 84 Loss Friendly
22/01/06 San Diego USA (7) 0 0 84 Draw Friendly
31/05/08 Seattle Brazil (2) 3 2 62 Loss Friendly

Wins 1

Draws 3

Losses 9

Average margin -1.54

As you can see, Canada doesn't have a stellar record in these matches. 1 win from 13 is nothing to get excited about. On the other hand it shouldn't come as much of a surprise when a team from the top 10 meets a team that is often closer to 100 than to 50.

The encouraging sign, though, is that Canada has rarely delivered a bed-shittingly poor performance. The worst beating was a 4-0 loss to the Yanks in January 2003, one of those developmental camp games in which both teams were fielding less than full lineups.

Also encouraging is that Canada has done well against Argentina's South American neighbours Brazil, with 2 draws and a 1 goal loss among the 4 matches. However, of those 3 results, one was at home and two were at neutral sites.

Matches that fall under the same category as the upcoming match against Argentina (away friendlies, and I won't include the USA matches) have not been particularly fruitful: 4-1 losses to Portugal and Germany, and a 2-1 loss to Spain. But hey, at least we didn't get shut out.

In short, when Canada travels to Argentina in May, we'll almost certainly lose. But it might not be as much of a blowout as you might think.


M@ said...

I remember that 4-1 loss to Germany; I watched it with a bunch of Voyageurs in Toronto. While the scoreline was pretty badly in their favour, it should be noted:

- We were playing the recent World Cup runners-up, and possibly one of the best German sides in recent years;
- We shocked the hell out of them when DeGuzman opened the scoring from an excellent free kick.

While I agree we will probably lose to Argentina, I can at least hope that we'll make it an interesting match.

J said...

You're absolutely right. Canada has had its moments in each of these matches, and the Canadian players clearly get up for the big games. Eventually the gap in quality catches up to them, but it's exciting to see Canada play close with these teams for minutes at a time.

Martin said...

You know you're being cited as reference in La Presse (one of the 2 big french newspaper in Qu├ębec?):

Bravo, you deserve it :-)

J said...

I didn't realize I had readers in such high places. It's amazing who will take notice when you bother to do a few minutes of research.