Ahead Of The Game Season 1
It’s been 36 years since Canada played in a men’s FIFA World Cup tournament. This November, they’re back on soccer’s biggest stage. What did it take to get to this point? Who made it happen? And what are they up against? Introducing Ahead Of The Game, a brand new sports podcast from The Globe and Mail, which follows Canada’s journey into the World Cup in Qatar and the tournament as a whole.
S1 Episode 8 Greatest final ever? Messi finally wins a World Cup despite legendary performance from Mbappé
Argentina are world champions after one of the most thrilling games in World Cup history, which saw them beat France 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw. In our final episode, we’re looking at the rollercoaster victory and reflect on Qatar 2022 as a whole. Plus, we look ahead to the World Cup in 2026 and the next four years of Canadian soccer.
S1 Episode 7 Mbappé vs. Messi: What to expect from a France-Argentina World Cup final
With Argentina knocking out Croatia 3-0 and France beating Morocco 2-0, the two heavyweight teams are set to faceoff on Dec 18. for the World Cup final. The stakes are high: France is going for its second World Cup win in a row, while Argentina’s Lionel Messi is vying to finally win a World Cup, and in what will be his last tournament. John and Sonja break down how each team and their star players are looking and who they think will win it all. Plus. Sonja speaks with David Miller, the former Toronto mayor and soccer advocate, about Canada’s journey to becoming a soccer nation and what the 2026 World Cup could mean for this country. And John and Sonja discuss the problem with referees.
S1 Episode 6 Morocco and Croatia upsets and a look ahead to the semi-finals
How quickly things change at a World Cup. A few days ago, hosts John and Sonja were talking about how the tournament was unfolding rather conventionally. Now, Croatia has knocked out Brazil and Morocco beat Portugal to advance to the semi-finals. We delve into the dramatic upsets of the quarter-finals and look ahead to what to expect from the upcoming semi-finals. Plus, Sonja speaks to Shireen Ahmed, a senior contributor for CBC sports, about her recent time in Qatar, lessons from this World Cup and the growth of women’s soccer both in Canada and internationally. And a tribute to Grant Wahl, an American sports journalist who died suddenly in Qatar.
S1 Episode 5 The problem with penalty shootouts, Ronaldo vs. Messi, and what to expect in the quarter-finals
Since 1990, four out of the eight winners of the World Cup have won a penalty shootout on their road to victory at the tournament. And as we’ve seen, in this World Cup, it has the ability to make or break a team’s progression. Spain has now been eliminated from four World Cups after penalty shootouts - its most recent against Morocco this tournament. In this episode, we’re talking about how much penalty taking matters as a skill on the road to a World Cup championship. Plus, we hear from Roger Bennett, one of the hosts of the popular Men In Blazers soccer podcast, about what might be Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s final World Cup, the 100 greatest players ever and his admiration for Canadian soccer. And John and Sonja look ahead to what we can expect in the quarter-finals.
S1 Episode 4 What the group stage results from this World Cup say about the state of international soccer
As the World Cup group stage wraps, 16 teams move on and 16 are heading home, including Canada. John and Sonja break down Canada’s 2-1 loss to Morocco in their final game of the tournament and the future of our National Men’s program ahead of the next World Cup, which Canada co-hosts in 2026. Plus, John speaks to soccer journalist Eoin O’Callaghan about how various teams - from Brazil to England - are faring at this tournament and what it means about the state of international soccer.
S1 Episode 3 Breaking down Canada’s 4-1 loss to Croatia, plus what it’s like on the ground in Qatar
Despite an early goal by Alphonso Davies, Canada lost to Croatia by 4-1, making them the second team to be eliminated from the World Cup. In this episode, Sonja Missio and John Doyle break down the devastating loss and what went wrong, as well as how their final match against Morocco could decide the outcome for the rest of the group. Plus, Sonja speaks to The Globe’s sports columnist Cathal Kelly, who is on the ground in Qatar, about what that experience has been like. And of course, we delve into other key results from the group stage.
S1 Episode 2 Canada’s 1-0 loss to Belgium, a missed penalty by Davies and the glory of shock upsets
The FIFA World Cup tournament officially kicked off earlier this week and hosts John Doyle and Sonja Missio have lots to talk about this episode, starting with Canada’s bitter 1-0 loss to Belgium and Alphonso Davies’ missed penalty shot. Former Canadian national team star Diana Matheson joins us to break down Canada’s performance in their first game and what their strategy might be going forward. Plus, John and Sonja delve into other results from the first round of the group stage - including favourite moments and current controversies. And later in the episode, John speaks to Simon Kuper, the bestselling author of the book Soccernomics, about this World Cup and how data hasn’t really revolutionized the sport.
S1 Episode 1 The World Cup kicks off Sunday. Here’s what you need to know
The FIFA World Cup tournament kicks off in just under a week with Team Canada playing its first match on November 23. Think of this episode as a primer for everything you need to know before the tournament starts, whether you’re a casual fan or live for the game. Plus, John Doyle speaks to Camila Gonzalez, TLN host and the producer of the compelling new documentary Heart of Goal: The Rise of Canadian Soccer, about Canada’s road to the World Cup. Finally, Sonja and John debate Canada’s prospects heading into their first World Cup in 36 years and preview their first match against Belgium.
S1 Episode 0 Coming Soon: Ahead Of The Game
About The Hosts
Sonja Cori Missio is a soccer journalist, who has covered national and international stories about the game for over a decade. Her work has been featured in The Guardian, on the CBC, and through Unusual Efforts, the soccer publishing startup she helped co-found. Sonja has also previously given her thoughts and analysis to the BBC, Metro UK, Global News, TLN, and the Canadian Premier League, via print, radio, television, and podcasts. When not writing/talking/arguing about soccer, she is the co-founder of Clavis Social and is always on the hunt for a complete Udinese Subbuteo kit. And, yes, she calls it "soccer."
John Doyle is a Globe and Mail columnist, critic and soccer writer. His book about soccer, The World is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer, was a national bestseller in Canada on publication in 2010 and longlisted for The William Hill Irish Sports Book Of The Year. It has also been published in the U.S., Ireland, the U.K. and Croatia. Doyle has also written for The New York Times and The Guardian. His work was included in the anthology Best Canadian Sports Writing (ECW Press, 2017). He lives happily while writing, watching TV and following and playing soccer in downtown Toronto. He’s covered four World Cups and three Euro tournaments, in total covering soccer from 17 countries on four continents.