Another sign of how far Canadian football has come, four members of the Canadian men’s team are competing in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League, which kicks off this week with the 32-team group stage.
Canada has never seen so many male football players in one competition.
Five years ago, it would have been impossible to have so many Canadians participate in the Champions League. It is now a reality. This bodes well for Canada’s future men’s team. Canada is currently in the middle CONCACAF’s tough campaign to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Canada needs as many players at this elite club level as possible.
Davies leads the way
At the head of the Canadian field is Alphonso Davies from FC Bayern Munich, the 20-year-old from Edmonton. Davies is now considered to be one of the top full-backs worldwide and played a key role in Bayern’s sixth Champions League title in two years. The lightning-fast Davies became the first Canadian man to win the Champions League.
Davies is a fixture in Canada’s national team with nine goals and 12 assists in 25 internationals. His probing and fearlessness when dealing with defenders has been invaluable to John Herdman’s team.
Signa Molinaro and John Molinaro analyse Canada’s performance. Canada has taken 2nd place in World Cup qualification after 3 games. Signa is joined by John Molinaro, who breaks down Canada’s opening round in the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup.| Signa Butler, John Molinaro analyze Canada’s performance:
Canada takes 2nd place in the World Cup qualification after 3 games
Seasoned midfielder Atiba Hutchinson is also returning to the highlights of the Champions League.
Hutchinson previously had Champions League experience with FC Copenhagen in 2006-07 as well as successive runs between 2016 and 2018 with the current Besiktas side. Hutchinson, a Besiktas icon, helped Istanbul club win the Turkish Super Lig title and the Turkish Cup. Besiktas has not achieved European success and this could be Hutchinson’s final attempt at it.
Atiba HUTCHINSON, front, is pictured in 2017. She was an icon for Besiktas and helped the Istanbul-based club win both the Turkish Super Lig (and the Turkish Cup) last season. (Lefteris Pitarakis / Associated Press)
Larin makes Champions League debut
Besikta’s teammate and compatriot from Brampton, Ontario, native Cyle Larin will make his Champions League debut this season to prove that his series of goals was no accident for club and country. Canadian striker Larin, 26, had a great season. He was second in Turkey with 19 and scored 24 goals across all competitions.
He has also scored 20 goals for Canada, and is expected to surpass Dwayne de Rosario (22 goals), as the men’s World Cup qualifier’s top scorer.
Jonathan David, a young debutant, completes the Canadian Champions League line-up. Canadian striker Jonathan David has had a huge increase in his goals since he signed with Belgian team KAA Gent in 2018. He scored 26 goals in 50 games for KAA Gent in just two seasons.
He was a stick figure that caught the eye of Lille OSC, who paid him a record $35 million transfer fee. This made David the most valuable Canadian player ever.
David, a 21 year-old Ottawa player, scored 16 goals in 19 games for Canada. He also helped Lille win their first French championship in a decade by scoring 13 goals during his debut season of French Ligue Un. This was a record for a Canadian in a top-five European championship. He is now ready to prove Europe’s best teams what he can do with the Champions League.
Jonathan David’s dazzling form caught the attention French team Lille OSC. They reportedly paid him an unprecedented $ 35 million transfer fee. (Loic Venance / Getty Images)
Canadians represented in the Europa League
This year’s UEFA Europa League, the second-tier club competition in European football, will also feature Canadian internationals.
Red Star Belgrade’s goalkeeper Milan Borjan won the SuperLiga title in 2020/21. He will now be working to help the club recover from last season’s defeat in the Europa League knockout round.
Borjan (33), has been an integral part of the Canadian national soccer team since 2011. He has played 56 caps since his debut in 2011, and set Paul Dolan’s record for national team career shutouts at 25. Borjan is Canada’s team leader because of his passion on and off the pitch.
Scott Arfield is a veteran midfielder who was part the Rangers squad that won last season’s Premiership title. It ended the nine-year streak of Scottish championship titles held by Glasgow rivals Celtic. Arfield, a 32-year-old Scottish-born Arfield has played 19 times for Canada. However, he has been focusing on his club career and not his national team career.
Canada’s last appearance was in 2019, but strong performances by the Rangers in Europa League could see him recall, as Canada progresses through World Cup qualifiers.
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