The Canadian women's national team returned to action on Friday for one of two international friendlies at their camp in Spain before the Olympics later this summer. Taking on the Czech Republic, Canada played out a frustrating 0-0 draw at Estadio Cartagonova in Cartagena. Despite heavily out-possessing their opponents, Canada wasn't able to find the back of the net with any of their 20 shots. They fielded a somewhat experimental starting 11, with Ashley Lawrence in midfield and Adriana Leon making her return to the front three, with heavy rotation coming through substitution in the second half. Bianca St. Georges also made her international debut, replacing Jayde Rivière in the 80th minute. Canada will now be turning their attention to the second friendly of this camp, this Monday against Brazil (3 pm ET, on OneSoccer), before coach Bev Priestman will have to select her final, 18-player roster for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. In the meantime, here are three key thoughts from Canada's draw with the Czech Republic.

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Different attacking setup struggles for final ball​

With a front three of Nichelle Prince, Christine Sinclair, and Adriana Leon, Canada went about trying to build up their attack through the middle, slowly pushing the Czechs backward. It was a very different strategy from previous games in 2021 against Argentina and Wales (who both sit near the Czech Republic in the FIFA World Rankings), when the Canadians relied more heavily on pace and width to generate chances from transition. Instead, they attempted to work the ball upfield more slowly with shorter passes, which they'll probably need to have in their arsenal for the variety of opponents they could face at the Olympics this summer. It didn't work quite as well as Priestman hoped -- Canada did enjoy extended time with the ball in the attacking third, but they struggled to piece together a final ball or key pass. A few great chances in the second half went unconverted, too -- 20 shots, but just two of them on target pretty much tells the story. With both Jessie Fleming and Ashley Lawrence in midfield, Canada was able to overwhelm the Czechs in the middle, but the connection to the front three wasn't quite there -- perhaps the chemistry or sharpness aren't quite there yet for that particular style of attacking. It'll be interesting to see if they try to play more direct against Brazil. Canada certainly dominated the contest possession-wise, but the finishing and truly dangerous chances weren't quite there -- an issue that also plagued Canada against tougher teams like the United States and Brazil at the SheBelieves Cup. Still, Priestman's decision to substitute the entire front three over the course of the match (Deanne Rose, Jordyn Huitema, and Évelyne Viens all got an opportunity) suggested she's still tinkering with the attack and giving everybody an opportunity. Speaking of which...

Competition for Olympic squad continues

Unfortunately, Canada will have to cut this 28-player roster down to 18 before the Olympics. Some players in Friday's starting 11 are likely on the bubble for inclusion in the final squad -- Adriana Leon or Gabrielle Carle, for instance. Jayde Rivière is still looking to nail down her spot in the team as a fullback (potentially a starter, if Lawrence is to play in midfield more often). Most players entering in relief are in similar situations -- Viens and Huitema, for instance, are essentially competing with each other for a seat on the plane to Japan. Arguably, though, it was Leon whose stock went up most from this game. She'd fallen out of the picture a little after missing the last camp in the UK, but the West Ham United winger was one of Canada's brightest starters in this one, looking good in the space outside the box and along the flanks. Otherwise, it's unlikely many players did much to change Priestman's perception on Friday, which means the contest with Brazil will have massive importance for anybody looking to secure a place in the team.

Buchanan, Gilles developing a partnership at CB?

Canada's back four on Friday was a little surprising, with Vanessa Gilles getting the nod over Shelina Zadorsky and Gabrielle Carle starting at fullback to allow Lawrence to play in midfield. The most heartening thing, though, was Kadeisha Buchanan's long-awaited return as defensive anchor. Buchanan has one of the most nailed-on places in the starting 11 heading into the Olympics, even though she hasn't played for the national team in a while. The Olympique Lyonnais defender is one of Canada's most talented players, with her ability to win the ball and play out of the back comfortably. Her presence instantly gives Canada's other defenders a confidence boost. The question, now, is who to start beside Buchanan. Zadorsky has the edge based on experience and past chemistry with Buchanan, but at this point, it's hard to justify dropping Gilles. She has been outstanding in all six games she has played in for Canada (four of them in 2021), and she's only been on the pitch for one goal conceded in just under 500 minutes played. Her ability to make the last-ditch tackle in dangerous areas may be of real value to Priestman's side. There seems to suddenly be more depth in this Canadian defense than there has been at recent tournaments, with younger players making a real case for themselves.

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